Darren Clarke was impressed with the former Irish captain
European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke has praised Paul O'Connell's role in speaking to the European team, ahead of the event beginning on Friday.
"Paul most definitely was exceptional in the team room last night", Clarke said on Wednesday at Hazeltine. "Any man that leads the British Lions who are playing overseas all the time, they play away from home; as the people from Europe that know rugby, they are the travelling side. So to get his input and his vision on what it took to make a successful travelling side was very impressive."
"The caddies, the players, everybody in that room; you could have heard a pin drop whenever Paul was addressing them. And it was quite interesting, because Paul is a very -- a very large man, 6'7", 6'7" and a half. And he's big in stature. But whenever Paul addressed the team, he sat down. He didn't stand up. He didn't feel the need to stand up and intimidate anybody. He brought himself down on the same level as everybody else."
"The team and the caddies were unbelievably impressed with the words that he gave us last night, so I was very, very thankful for him to come along and do that. The guys were thoroughly inspired."
Despite rugby being a niche sport in the majority of continental Europe, Clarke added that all 12 players were impressed by what the Limerick man said to the team.
"Paul said quite a few things last night, and I don't know, we're talking about two different sports in rugby and golf; whereas rugby is obviously a team game all the time, and golf, we get together for this once every two years."
"But he made a lot of very pertinent points about you're playing for the jersey and different ways about that. There was a lot of common ground found there. And when you have the likes of Henrik and Sergio and Rafa and those guys, Thomas Pieters, those guys are not quite as familiar with the game of rugby as I would be, to have those guys listening to every word he said, obviously everything he did say resonated with them."
The opening ceremony takes place on Thursday evening, with the first foursomes matches taking to the course Friday morning.