Schmidt in awe of O’Connell

Date published: November 10 2014

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After another stellar performance in Ireland’s win over South Africa, head coach Joe Schmidt was full of praise for Paul O’Connell.

After another stellar performance in Ireland’s win over South Africa, head coach Joe Schmidt was full of praise for Paul O’Connell.

The 35-year-old was at his physical best against the Springboks in Dublin as Ireland gave their visitors a surprise.

Schmidt when looking for a superlative for O’Connell’s efforts settled on the Maori word ‘mana’, which has no direct translation but can used when referring to a person of great prestige or a force of nature.

For a New Zealander to use such a word to describe an Irishman says a lot about his respect for the Munster talisman.

“He has an incredible amount of respect: a word that sums him up is that he’s just got ‘mana’,” said Schmidt.

“He’s a guy who does not know how to give up, he prides himself on being as well prepared as he can be and he has massive respect within the group because of how he delivers.

“When he’s done, he delivers again.

“Not many guys have the mental capacity that Paul O’Connell has.

“There are a lot of guys who physically get into good shape, but he’s one of the most mentally tough players I’ve been involved with.”

Asked what makes O’Connell so special, Schmidt singled out his consistency at the top level and an impressive engine.

“He just makes sure he delivers every time,” added Schmidt.

“I’m not sure myself how he does it, because I think I’d be crumpled and that would be at the start of the game.

“He just keeps going right through the game, that’s why he has so much respect and that’s why he’s a genuine captain who leads by example.”

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