O'Connell seals Toulon deal

Paul O'Connell is set for a move to France
Paul O'Connell is set for a move to France

Ireland captain Paul O'Connell has finalised his two-year deal to join triple European champions Toulon after the autumn's World Cup.

The 101-Test veteran has completed his move to the Cote d'Azur powerhouse club and Toulon are expected to publicise the deal in the coming days.

The 35-year-old lock will lead Ireland's World Cup campaign in a Test swansong this autumn before leaving sole club Munster for the south of France.

Ireland's oldest captain of all time will offset the loss of World Cup-winning locks Bakkies Botha and Ali Williams, who both retired at the end of the current campaign.

Irish rugby and Munster chiefs last month agreed to release O'Connell from the remainder of his dual contract, that was set to run until June 2016, paving the way for his new challenge in France.

O'Connell's final appearance for home province Munster was the Pro12 final defeat to Glasgow at Ravenhill in May.

O'Connell made his Munster debut in 2001, progressing to claim two European Cup titles and three Celtic League crowns.

The evergreen lineout boss has spearheaded Ireland's drive to successive RBS 6 Nations titles under the stewardship of taskmaster coach Joe Schmidt, and it is that relentless drive and tactical acumen that has led Toulon to complete his recruitment.

Former Ireland skipper Keith Wood recently threw his weight behind O'Connell's chance for a lucrative move to the reigning European champions.

''He's a guy who loves the south of France, he got married in the south of France,'' Wood told Newstalk.

''He enjoys the place, he enjoys the culture.

''I know he was envious of what Jonny (Wilkinson) got out of it, not in terms of the finances.

''Of course the finances are always part of it, but it was almost like the fresh breath of energy he got back into it.''