Friday 23 February 2018

Campbell backs O'Gara for New Zealand tour

Ireland's fly-half Ronan O'Gara (R) vies with Italy's center Gonzalo Canale during the 2011 Rugby World Cup pool C match Ireland vs Italy at the Otago Stadium in Dunedin. Photo: Getty Images
Ireland's fly-half Ronan O'Gara (R) vies with Italy's center Gonzalo Canale during the 2011 Rugby World Cup pool C match Ireland vs Italy at the Otago Stadium in Dunedin. Photo: Getty Images

OLLIE CAMPBELL believes Ireland need Ronan O'Gara for the tour to New Zealand, but says Ian Madigan should be there too, WRITES HUGH FARRELLY.

There have been calls to leave the 35-year-old out-half at home in the interests of long-term development, but Campbell says Ireland coach Declan Kidney needs O'Gara's experience for the daunting challenge of taking on the world champion All Blacks over three Tests next month.

"To travel without Ronan would be very risky," said Campbell. "Ronan is as hungry as ever and he is not going off into the sunset yet. The experience he carries, 121 Tests for Ireland, more than 200 games for Munster (218), is crucial and valuable depending on who of the leaders are not available.

"You have to have that knowledge and experience, not least when you are trying something no Ireland team has attempted before -- three Tests against the All Blacks in New Zealand, and the fact they are world champions makes it even harder. However, there is a strong argument for bringing Madigan as well as Sexton and O'Gara.

"What an opportunity it would be for him to be exposed to this sort of environment and we have to look ahead as well. In bringing the younger players into this level, I would say if not now, when?"

Irish Independent

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