Alan Quinlan and Mike Prendergast have paid tribute to their former Munster team-mate Paul O'Connell after the Limerick man confirmed his intention to leave the province this summer.
O'Connell, who has been linked with a move to French side Toulon, made his Munster debut in 2001, and Quinlan was impressed by the lock from an early stage.
O'Connell has won 101 caps and will lead Ireland's assault on the looming World Cup, a tournament they enter as Six Nations champions.
The 35-year-old was captain of the 2009 British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa and also toured in 2005 and 2013, playing in a total of seven Tests.
“He’s an extraordinary character and rugby player,” Quinlan told RTÉ Sport.
“From the very minute he came in to the squad he had a great presence about him.
“He obviously was very talented to progress and he was someone that I would have looked at and said ‘he’s going to make it’ straight away.
“He’d a great attitude, a great work-rate, a great intensity in his training and just had a huge drive and desire to succeed.
“For me, what stands out about Paul is that he was always willing to help others around him.”
Prendergast, who spent two spells with O’Connell and Quinlan at Munster, said: “He’s going to be huge, huge loss.
“It’s going to take other guys to come in and push the standards and drive it on.”
The 35-year-old has had to contend with his fair share of injuries, something that Prendergast believes makes his career all the more extraordinary.
“It’s 15 years and when you look at a guy what he did with his first number of years in his career - and let’s not forget he went through a tough couple of years injury-wise - and to come back and what he’s done in the last four or five years is remarkable."
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