Ireland hire ex-captain O'Connell as forwards coach

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Former captain Paul O'Connell has been appointed Ireland forwards coach ahead of the Six Nations

Former captain Paul O'Connell has been hired as Ireland forwards coach as Andy Farrell's side gear up for the 2021 Six Nations.

The 41-year-old former lock, capped 108 times by Ireland, replaces Simon Easterby, who will focus on defence.

Head coach Farrell is under pressure to improve on Ireland's disappointing 2020 Six Nations campaign. They finished third after losses to eventual champions England and a vastly improved France.

One of O'Connell's main challenges will be to improve the team's misfiring line-out as they prepare for their opening match against Wales in Cardiff on February 7.

"Paul brings a wealth of rugby knowledge with him and as forwards coach he will have responsibility for the forwards including the line-out," said Farrell.

"He will also be another strong voice and leader within the group."

The former British and Irish Lions player has held coaching positions with the Munster Academy, Ireland U20s and Top 14 side Stade Francais.

"It's an exciting young group of players to be involved with," said O'Connell, who won three Six Nations titles as a player, including the 2009 Grand Slam.

"There are talented forwards coming through across the four provinces that will no doubt be pushing for international selection in the coming months and years."

David Nucifora, the IRFU's performance director, said O'Connell had a "huge amount of international rugby experience".

"We have been keen to find the right opportunity for him within Irish rugby and we think the fit with the national squad will work well," he added.

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