Thursday 19 September 2019

'I think it is a signature signing in a great way' - Ronan O'Gara says Munster will be transformed by Stephen Larkham


Stephen Larkham. Photo: Sportsfile
Stephen Larkham. Photo: Sportsfile

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

Ronan O'Gara believes Stephen Larkham can be the catalyst for an improved Munster next season.

The former Wallaby, who lined up opposite the Ireland great four times at Test level, joins the province as 'senior coach' after working with the Brumbies and Australia.

Beaten semi-finalists in the Champions Cup and PRO14 in successive seasons, Munster are hoping the new coach can invigorate their attempts to take the next step.

"I played against Larkham. He would have been a few years older and I would have admired him. I think it is a signature signing in a great way, I think, because of what he has done and his capacity as a player and a coach," he said.

"There is a great aura about him and I think maybe the Munster backs might derive more confidence from a guy like him.

"The Aussies are always exceptional on attack frameworks. This isn't a critique, they really like patterns but I think with the natural ability the Irish have in a pattern and a framework and their ability to play, I think that will suit Munster."

Having returned to France to coach La Rochelle, O'Gara's main focus is on the upcoming Top 14 season but his successful two seasons in Super Rugby with Crusaders leave him well placed to judge the field for the upcoming World Cup.

And he believes the tournament is more open than any before.

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"Maybe in the last one they (New Zealand) were clear favourites, and then the other ones I was involved in, but I don't think there's ever been a feeling of such openness about a competition in any sport, especially at World level," he said.

"For me, if you get on a run, I don't know if it's stretching it to say that seven teams could win it."

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