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poc back Paul O'Connell returns to Ireland set-up after being named as forwards coach

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Former Ireland captain Paul O'Connell, right, and head coach Andy Farrell have teamed up again

Former Ireland captain Paul O'Connell, right, and head coach Andy Farrell have teamed up again

Former Ireland captain Paul O'Connell, right, and head coach Andy Farrell have teamed up again

Paul O'Connell is back in the Ireland camp after the former captain was named as forwards coach.

O'Connell's addition to Andy Farrell's set-up will relieve the pressure on Simon Easterby after Ireland's set-piece floundered during a difficult 2020 calendar year. Easterby will now focus on the defence.

Since retiring from playing in 2015, 108-times capped O'Connell has held coaching positions with the Munster Academy, Ireland U20s and Top 14 side Stade Francais.

He will take up the role immediately with Ireland's first Six Nations game pencilled in for February 7 against Wales in Cardiff.

"Paul brings a wealth of rugby knowledge with him and as forwards coach he will have responsibility for the forwards including the line-out working alongside John (Fogarty). He will also be another strong voice and leader within the group," said Farrell.

"Simon (Easterby) has a real passion for defence and having developed Ireland’s forward play over the past six years with the additional responsibility for the defence over the past 12 months, he will now be able to focus his energy and rugby intellect on this area of our game.

"The weekend’s Interpro games and the European fixtures in the weeks ahead will give players the opportunity to push for selection for the Six Nations squad. The squad will not be selected until after the Champions Cup Round 4 fixtures have been completed."

O'Connell said: "I am really looking forward to working with Andy and the rest of the coaching group.

"I worked with Simon as a player and am looking forward to working with him again. It’s an exciting young group of players to be involved with and 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."

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