Dublin - Ireland captain Paul O'Connell announced on Tuesday that he would retire from international duty after this year's World Cup.
O'Connell is widely expected to join French Top 14 club Toulon after Ireland's World Cup campaign in England and the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) agreed to terminate his agreement with Munster in recognition of his contribution to his province and national team.
The 35-year-old lock, who has won 101 caps for Ireland, skippered his country to the Six Nations title earlier this year and plans to return home in a coaching capacity once his playing days are over.
"After the World Cup I'd like to experience new environments and it is my genuine hope and ambition that I will have some future involvement with Munster and Irish rugby," O'Connell said in a statement.
"As a proud Limerick, Munster and Irishman, I will forever treasure my association with Munster Rugby."
O'Connell was captain of the 2009 British and Irish Lions on their tour to South Africa and also toured in 2005 and 2013, playing in a total of seven Tests.