Praise lavished on O’Connell ahead of landmark cap

British & Irish Lion Paul O'Connell is set to win his 100th international cap for Ireland this weekend and head coach Joe Schmidt admits he could barely imagine a better leader. [more]

Paul O'Connell

British & Irish Lion Paul O’Connell is set to win his 100th international cap for Ireland this weekend and head coach Joe Schmidt admits he could barely imagine a better leader.

For three years, lock O’Connell and Schmidt regularly went into domestic battle with Munster and Leinster respectively.

But since Schmidt took the Ireland reins in 2013 they have been fighting for the same cause.

And the 49-year-old Kiwi admits he is glad to now have the three-time Lion with him rather than against him.

“The person I have come to know is exactly the person I thought he was from afar,” Schmidt said of the 35-year-old.

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“He has got incredible self-drive, an incredible intelligence about the game, about particular aspects of the game.

“He is incredibly driven to improve his own performance and thereby leads others in doing that. That is what I have learnt even more.

“I suppose that has been confirmed to me in the period of time that we have spent working together over the last 18 months when I first started looking a little more broadly when I knew I was going to take the position and then since been in situ.”

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