Paul O'Connell to end Ireland career after World Cup

Paul O'Connell will end his Ireland career after the World Cup
Paul O'Connell will end his Ireland career after the World Cup

Ireland captain Paul O'Connell will retire from international rugby after this year's World Cup.

The 35-year-old lock made his Ireland debut against Wales in February 2002 and has won 101 caps, and also played in seven Lions Tests.

O'Connell will also leave Munster after the tournament and is expected to move to French club Toulon.

"After the World Cup I would like to experience new environments," said O'Connell on Tuesday.

O'Connell has won a Grand Slam, led Ireland to two Six Nations titles and secured four Triple Crowns.

He played in three British and Irish Lions tours and captained the team in South Africa in 2009.

The Limerick man was contracted until June 2016 but the IRFU and Munster agreed to his request for an early release.

Paul O'Connell (centre) celebrates Munster's 2008 Heineken Cup win with Donncha O'Callaghan and Alan Quinlan
Paul O'Connell (centre) celebrates Munster's 2008 Heineken Cup win with Donncha O'Callaghan and Alan Quinlan

O'Connell made his senior Munster debut in August 2001 away to Edinburgh and has represented the province on 178 occasions.

The second-row has won two European Cups, three League titles and a Celtic Cup with Munster.

"I have been hugely fortunate to play with one of the greatest sporting organisations in the world and as a proud Limerick, Munster and Irishman, I will forever treasure my association with Munster Rugby," added O'Connell.

"It is my genuine hope and ambition that I will have some future involvement with Munster and Irish Rugby."

"I would also like to thank all Munster and Irish Rugby fans for their support.

"I look forward to them showing why they are regarded as the best supporters in world rugby as Ireland travel to the Rugby World Cup in England in September."

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