Ireland captain Paul O’Connell wants no fuss when he runs out for his final Dublin international in a World Cup warm-up match against Wales at Lansdowne Road on Saturday.
The 35-year-old lock will wear the green jersey for the final time on home soil this weekend, with O’Connell retiring from Test rugby after the upcoming World Cup in England to join French giants Toulon.
O’Connell’s career has seen him win 102 caps for his country and captain the British and Irish Lions.
Saturday’s match with Wales — the country O’Connell made his Test debut against 13 years ago — will be the last for both Celtic nations before their respective Kiwi coaches Joe Schmidt (Ireland) and Warren Gatland (Wales)name their final 31-man World Cup squads.
Regardless of the result, Munster forward O’Connell is assured of a rousing send-off at Lansdowne Road but, true to form, he is trying to focus on the task at hand.
“There seems to be a lot of final everythings for me lately!” said O’Connell, at a Lansdowne Road press conference on Friday.
“It is my first start (of the summer), and it’s more where I am going to be in terms of my playing and my fitness is where my mind is at the moment.
“I have had a good pre-season, but it has been two-and-a-half months since I started a game, so I am just eager to get out and see where I am and put in a good performance.
“That side of it (Dublin farewell) hasn’t been big for me this week.
“I was disappointed with some of the things I did in the Scotland game (two weeks ago), and I am eager to correct those. It’s about the game, and getting it right.”
Six Nations champions Ireland find themselves an outside bet for World Cup glory even though they’ve never previously got beyond the quarter-finals.
They beat Wales in Cardiff earlier this month before seeing off Scotland, with their last warm-up clash — against tournament hosts England at Twickenham on September 5 — set to provide another guide to their form.
The Irish will be strongly fancied to top a pool that also includes France, Italy, Canada and Romania.
But as for their chances of winning the World Cup, O’Connell, sidestepped the question with a swerve worthy of retired Ireland centre star Brian O’Driscoll rather than a second row.
“We think only good things can come from having a real short term focus on our preparation and taking these matches really really seriously, and not looking too far beyond them.”
But asked how he would like to be remembered by Ireland fans, O’Connell said: “I don’t know, as a hard worker and team man, I hope the people would say that. I don’t know really.
“It’s been a very enjoyable experience playing here in Ireland, in Dublin, in the Aviva in Lansdowne Road, you know it’s everyone’s dream.” – Agence France-Presse