10 Dec, 12:23
Ireland's John Lacey will referee his first ever RBS 6 Nations while Alain Rolland is also included in the Elite Panel in what is his last season.
The Irish Rugby Football Union and Munster and are delighted to announce that international lock Paul O'Connell has agreed terms that will keep him contracted to the IRFU with Munster until the end of season 2008/09.
Paul O'Connell has become one of Ireland's senior internationals in a relatively short space of time and has won 31 caps to date since making his debut against Wales in 2002. He has captained Ireland on two occasions.
He has also been an integral part of the Munster team, making his debut for the province in 2001 and winning 60 caps since then.
Commenting on the news, Munster Chief Executive Garrett Fitzgerald said, We are really pleased that a player of Paul's stature has committed himself to Munster for the next few years. It is tremendous news for us and a great boost coming at a time when we face into the latter stages of the Celtic League and Heineken Cup.
Philip Browne, Chief Executive, IRFU also expressed his pleasure saying, Paul's decision to commit to his future in Ireland with Munster is a welcomed one and another key contract in our international and provincial set up. His standing in the game continues to grow every season and coming on the back of other recent senior players renewing their contracts, it is good news for Munster and Ireland.
Asked about his decision to remain O'Connell admitted there was no great dilemma for him, "It wasn't a difficult decision really. When you consider the players we (Munster) have, consider their work ethic and ambition, I don't think you would find anything comparable at another club. Besides that I'm very happy with the coaching set-up we have. All things considered I'm delighted and just looking forward to getting on with the job of helping Munster and Ireland achieve the goals we've set for ourselves.