Paul O'Connell signs new deal with Ireland and Munster

Paul O'Connell of Ireland
Paul O'Connell captained the Lions squad to South Africa in 2009

Paul O'Connell has signed a new contract which will see him continue to play for Ireland and Munster for a further two seasons until 2014.

The 32-year-old, who will captain Ireland in the forthcoming Six Nations campaign, has won 82 caps and has played 127 times for Munster.

He has enjoyed Grand Slam, Triple Crown and Six Nations success with Ireland.

With his province, O'Connell has been part of two Heineken Cup-winning sides and has won two Celtic League titles.

O'Connell also has a Celtic Cup medal and has been part of the Ireland squad at three World Cups, while he represented the British and Irish Lions on two tours, to New Zealand in 2005 and South Africa in 2009, when he was captain.

"I have been lucky over the last 10 years to play with a team like Munster which has such phenomenal support and I have enjoyed a lot of success during that time," said O'Connell.

"So much has changed since my first games for Munster in 2001 and Ireland a year later, with Heineken Cup and Grand Slam wins, brand-new stadiums and having the opportunity to play with so many good players. It was always a very easy decision to remain in my home province.

"I am feeling really good both mentally and physically, which in part goes down to how well we are looked after here in Ireland. I am looking forward to the remainder of this season and beyond and doing all I can to help make Munster and Ireland as successful as possible."

Ireland coach Declan Kidney said: "It is a very strong message when you have a player of Paul's standing opting to continue playing in Ireland with Munster.

"Paul has been a very important player and leader for both Ireland and Munster during his career and I am especially pleased that he has come back so strongly after his injury troubles."