RONAN O’GARA has described being left out of Declan Kidney’s Six Nations starting XV as "torture" but he has vowed to fight on in green until 2015.
Following Ireland’s historic World Cup win over Australia last year, O’Gara announced that his international career was drawing to an end but he has done a complete U-turn.
“I have never felt better about my rugby,” said O’Gara, who turned 35 earlier this month. “I’ve never worked harder and I am as committed as ever. I’m fitter now than I was five years ago and my work rate in training is higher than it ever was.
“It was torture not starting in the (Six Nations) games. You question everything. But then you have to put it to one side – it’s not as if I could have been playing any better at the time – and you have to stay professional.
“It was gut-wrenching,” said O’Gara. “I especially thought I would start the Wales game, given I was the incumbent and was just after helping Munster to their best-ever pool campaign in the Heineken Cup.
“Also, I had bust my ass over the previous 18 months to win the jersey back.
“You have to put the disappointment to one side and do what you can for the team. I concentrated on making the most of the opportunities I got, be that five minutes, 20 minutes or 25 minutes, and I always felt that I was maybe five minutes away from getting the start.
“I will know when it is time for me to retire from international rugby. There will come a day when I can no longer produce at this level. That day isn’t even close.”
O’Gara has laughed off calls for his retirement and admits that he can play on for at least another three years.
“Calls for my retirement … what a joke given my record over the last few years,” O’Gara said. “I’ll be the first to call retirement when my time is up. I plan to play for my country until I’m 38.
“I love playing for Munster, I love playing for Ireland.”