Paul O'Connell says he believes he can offer something new to Ireland's lineout, as he begins his first campaign as part of Andy Farrell's coaching ticket.
The former Ireland and Lions captain was announced as forwards coach last month, replacing Simon Easterby who will take on the defence brief full time.
O'Connell did join the squad on a temporary basis last year, with his previous coaching experiences coming with the Ireland under 20s, as well as Stade Francais.
Speaking today as Ireland begin preparations for the Six Nations opener against Wales on Sunday, O'Connell says the offer from Farrell to join the squad on a permanent basis did come as a surprise, but he's confident he can "offer value" to the team.
"It probably did, yeah (come as a surprise). I would speak to him a lot and speak to other coaches a lot. I just find watching the game interesting. Even the matches people find boring, where there's a lot of kicking, I find it interesting trying to figure out why teams are doing what they're doing. There's generally a logical reason behind it, so I'd always be picking up the phone to coaches.
"I'd be in contact with Andy, I was in the camp last year, I'd be in contact with Simon (Easterby) and a few of the other coaches as well. Andy asked me after the Autumn Nations Cup would I be interested in getting involved. I took a few weeks to think about it and decided it was the right thing for me to do.
"I feel like I can offer value, I have an awful lot to learn certainly as a coach but I felt I could immediately offer value to coaching staff and players," he says.
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O'Connell says that while he's well aware of his lack of coaching experience, he believes his relatively recent experiences playing the game can add a new layer to the coaching depth.
"The big reason is I felt I could offer value. My recent connection to paying could be a weakness but I think its a bit of strength as well. You're still clued into how a player feels and how a player learns and how hard it can be to learn at times and change a habit.
"I was excited the minute he rang me, and I think he's got a really good environment here," he adds.
His first task will be to improve Ireland's faltering lineout, after they struggled with the set-piece in both the Six Nations and their Autumn Nations Cup defeats to England and France.
O'Connell says it's an area of the game that relies heavily on experience, and that the pack of forwards can use those struggles for their own benefit.
"I certainly hope I'll have an impact in the lineout but a big part of the lineout is experience. To be able to see pictures and have the feel of what's going to happen before it happens you need to be there a lot, you need to see it, you probably need to have a bad few days and learn from them.
"I think the Ireland lineout has been pretty good. There have been high profile losses right on the opposition line and they're very expensive."
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