Former British & Irish Lions captain Paul O’Connell will join Ireland’s coaching staff with immediate effect ahead of the Six Nations.
The Test centurion will be paired with Simon Easterby to work with Ireland’s forwards during the tournament.
After his retirement in 2015, O’Connell has held coaching positions and consultancy roles with Munster’s pathway, Ireland U20s and Stade Francais.
Head coach Andy Farrell is building preparations towards Ireland’s Six Nations start date of February 7, when they travel to the Principality Stadium to face Wales.
“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.
“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.”
Since entering the 2019 Rugby World Cup as the top-ranked nation in the world, Ireland have fallen to fifth in the Men’s World Rugby rankings behind England and France.
Capped 108 times by his country, O’Connell expressed his eagerness to get to work with the talented crop of youngsters coming through at all four Irish provinces into Test contention.
“I am really looking forward to working with Andy and the rest of the coaching group,” said O’Connell.
“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.”