Toulon deny Paul O’Connell rumours

European Champions Cup finalists release statement after newspaper reports claim the Ireland captain has signed for next season

Paul O'Connell
Ireland captain O'Connell is expected to end international career later this year Photo: Jason O'Callaghan

Toulon have released a statement denying they have signed Ireland captain Paul O’Connell.

Reports in French newspapers on Tuesday claimed that the defending European champions had secured a deal for the 35-year-old Munster icon, who has hinted at ending his international career after the Rugby World Cup later this year.

No strangers to being linked with the world’s biggest talents, Toulon have also been linked with Australian international playmaker Quade Cooper and other players from the southern hemisphere on big money deals.

But the club took to their online platforms on Tuesday afternoon to quash the talk of O’Connell replacing Ali Williams, who is set to retire at the end of the season, in their engine room.

O’Connell, who is under contract with the Irish Rugby Football Union until June 2016, would fit Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal’s mould of a player that would be worth splashing out for despite his age.

“RC Toulon, accustomed to all sorts of rumours about future potential recruits, deny what some see as information – namely the signing of the second-row Paul O’Connell,” read the club statement.

“RC Toulon cautions that Paul O’Connell has not signed a contract with Toulon Rugby Club, and the alleged contacts between the player and the ‘Red and Black’ are pure speculation.”

The French and European champions have already started their shopping spree for next season with versatile backs Ma’a Nonu and Napolioni Nalaga joining from the Hurricanes and Clermont Auvergne, respectively, while Northampton Saints duo Samu Manoa and Salesi Ma’afu have also signed deals.

French newspaper L’Équipe also reported that Cooper has signed a two-year deal to join from Queensland Reds.

The Wallaby was spotted taking in Toulon’s 25-20 win over Leinster in the European Champions Cup semi-final in Marseille on Sunday, with Montpellier’s Ben Lucas hinting on Facebook that his former team-mate was heading to France after the Rugby World Cup.

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