Monday 19 March 2018

O'Gara calls for 'right attitude' in Brive clash

Ian Bransfield

Ronan O'Gara is still sporting a shiner after last week's defeat of Leinster, but it hasn't clouded his vision when it comes to matters rugby.

With Saturday's Amlin Cup showdown against Brive looming, the Corkman is preparing for his first visit to French soil since a chastening 32-16 defeat in Toulon in January ended Munster's Heineken Cup involvement.

Looking back now on that fateful day in the South of France, O'Gara believes it holds little importance.

"The key point which people are probably missing is that it's not what happened in Toulon," he says. "That happens in rugby.

"You're going to get days like that, when a French team produces and plays their best game of the season, like they did against us.

"What we have to look at is our performance against London Irish and the Ospreys. They're the two games which cost us qualification.

"Not qualifying from the group came down to just a bonus point, so they're the small margins we're talking about.

"I can accept Toulon, because that can happen. I just think we were a bit soft mentally against London Irish in the first game of the campaign. You think you have five games to make it up, but at this level you don't."

Munster have regrouped since Toulon, consolidated their lead at the top of the Magners League table and brought about an end to their Leinster hoodoo.

"It was a good game to win because they threw everything at us," says O'Gara of last Saturday's one-point victory at Thomond Park. "What pleased me most was our willingness to get back into the game.

"Considering what has happened this season -- not qualifying for the European Cup (knockout stages), mentally the easy option would have been to let them get the better of us, but fellas dug deep inside themselves and found something."

Thoughts now to turn to Brive, who lie third from bottom in the French Top 14 with just seven wins from 23 games, although back-to-back victories have eased relegation fears.

"They'll be dangerous anyway," says O'Gara. "French teams at home are going to be difficult. They look physical, they look direct. They'll be tough and awkward. But they'll get the same amount of work that Leinster got last week.

"What we need to be concerned about is ourselves, and that's been the pleasing thing over the last few weeks. We've concentrated on ourselves and there has been a good atmosphere in the camp.

"As you saw on Saturday night, attitude is probably everything, in whatever sport it is. Whether it's a junior 'B' hurling game, or an international match, if you have the right attitude you have a chance."

  • TONGAN winger Fetu'u Vainikolo has become the latest addition to Connacht's roster for next season after signing from the Highlanders.

The 26-year-old has represented the New Zealand Barbarians. An explosive ball carrier, the 5'9" outside back will join on a two-year deal.

Irish Independent

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