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O'Gara: Autumn axing made me stronger

Ronan O'Gara admits his demotion as Ireland's first choice fly-half last autumn forced him to address his loss in form.

O'Gara will continue in the number 10 jersey for Saturday's Six Nations clash with France in Paris with a fit-again Jonathan Sexton to feature on the bench.

It will be his second start since losing his place to Sexton for the 15-10 victory over South Africa in November.

A near-immaculate display in last Saturday's 29-11 victory over Italy, in which he kicked 16 points without missing a shot at goal, continued a fine spell for the Munster veteran.

"It hurts when you're dropped. It's disappointing, especially when you care about the team so much," said O'Gara.

"When it happens you try to see where you can make improvements.

"You look at yourself harder but usually your first reaction is to try and blame other people and not yourself.

"When you're dropped there's no need to panic. I had to go away, sort things out and come back.

"I think I've been playing well this season, though I didn't goalkick well. That's a fact and you have to be criticised for these things. I needed to address that and that's what I did. I was happy in my own head, even when things weren't going so well.

"Small things at this level make a big difference, there was nothing big that needed changing," O'Gara added.

France have been hit by a double blow ahead of the crucial clash on Saturday with the news that wing Aurelien Rougerie and prop Luc Ducalcon have been forced to pull out of the side.

Marc Lievremont had initially included the duo in his squad for Saturday's game despite them both carrying knocks. Rougerie lasted only a few minutes against Scotland in their opener at Murrayfield, and the Clermont Auvergne wing has been replaced by Brive's Alexis Palisson.


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