Saturday 27 May 2017

Centurion O'Gara insists Munster win over Scarlets comes first

Hugh Farrelly

RONAN O'GARA says becoming only the second player to make 100 Heineken Cup appearances would be "great to achieve" but believes Saturday's clash with the Scarlets is far too important for him to dwell on the honour now.

O'Gara presented John Hayes with his cap when his Munster team-mate became the Heineken Cup's first centurion, and the out-half believes the European club competition has been essential to the progress of the national side and his own development.

"I hadn't given it much thought until it was mentioned," admitted O'Gara. "I was honoured to present John Hayes with his 100th cap because he was, in my opinion, the most fitting Munster man to achieve that milestone.

"Yes, it's a great thing to achieve but right now the game itself is far too important.

FANTASTIC

"When I finish playing in a few years' time I will look upon it as significant because it's a fantastic competition, a competition that has given me every possible emotion.

"It's nowhere near the standard of international rugby. But what is so good about the European Cup is the game that can be played; you have more time, probably a second longer on the ball than you would in international rugby.

"International rugby is probably more difficult but a slightly less appealing game to the fan."

Munster captain Paul O'Connell said O'Gara was an inspiration to every player in the squad.

"The thing that separates Ronan from a lot of other people is that he has a mental resilience that is very admirable and inspires everyone else," said O'Connell.

"You want players that you know when they have a setback, in a game or career-wise with injury or being dropped or whatever, they are going to come back stronger and harder than ever. That's probably the big thing about him, his mental strength."

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