Paul O'Connell: Munster say no substance to lock's Toulon link

Paul O'Connell in action for Munster against Edinburgh earlier this month
Paul O'Connell's current Munster contract is scheduled to finish at the end of next season

Munster coach Anthony Foley believes there is no substance to reports that Paul O'Connell could be set for a surprise move to Toulon.

A French newspaper on Monday suggested that the 35-year-old Ireland and Munster lock had been targeted by the current European Club Champions.

However, Foley said on Tuesday that there was "nothing in" the reports.

A Toulon statement also described the reports of contact between O'Connell and the club as "pure speculation".

The initial report linking O'Connell with Toulon was in Nice-based regional newspaper Var-Matin and a number of Irish media organisations also picked up on the story on Tuesday.

"Toulon cautions that Paul O'Connell has not signed a contract with Toulon Rugby Club and the alleged contacts between the player and the Red and Black are pure speculation," said the Toulon statement.

Paul O'Connell factfile
1979: Born, 20 October, Limerick
2001: Makes Munster debut against Edinburgh
2002: Wins first Ireland cap against Wales
2005: Earns first British & Lions cap against New Zealand
2006: Helps Munster win the province's first Heineken Cup title
2008: Captains Munster to another Heineken Cup title
2009: Helps Ireland win Grand Slam and captains Lions against Springboks
2013: Injured in First Test against Australia and misses rest of tour
2014: Captains Ireland to Six Nations title
2015: Leads Ireland to another Six Nations title

O'Connell is under contract with Munster until the end of next season although there has been speculation that he may retire from Ireland duty after this year's World Cup.

"It's all in the media. There's nothing really. When you talk to Paul, there's nothing." Munster coach Foley told Cork radio stadium Red FM.

"Somebody said it to me this morning and it was the first I've heard of it.

"It's probably something to sell papers. Unless, Paul says it to me, nothing like that has happened.

"I tend to just bin stuff like that."

The Munster star captained Ireland to a second successive Six Nations title last month.

Paul O'Connell with Munster coach Anthony Foley
Anthony Foley expects Paul O'Connell to see out his Munster contract next season

O'Connell has won 101 Ireland caps in addition to making 170 appearances for the Irish province since his debut in 2001.

The Limerick native has also played on three British & Irish Lions tours.

O'Connell would fit in with Toulon's established reputation under their multi-millionaire president Mourad Boudjellal of signing world stars.

Former players include England 2003 World Cup hero Jonny Wilkinson, New Zealand's dual code international Sonny Bill Williams, South Africa Test lock Victor Matfield and ex-Australia flanker George Smith.

And their current squad features the likes of Leigh Halfpenny, Bryan Habana and Matt Giteau, with Boudjellal's spending capacity showing no sign of abating.

O'Connell is a fitness doubt for Munster's Pro12 game against Treviso on Saturday because of a shoulder injury.

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