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O'Gara can drive Ireland to glory


Ronan O' Gara Photo: Sportsfile

Ronan O' Gara Photo: Sportsfile

Ronan O' Gara Photo: Sportsfile

IRELAND have identified Ruaridh Jackson as a major threat in tomorrow's Six Nations showdown in Murrayfield and have vowed to pay special attention to the young Scottish out-half.

Glasgow Warriors man Jackson is one of seven changes made to the side that flopped at home to Wales last time out -- going down 24-6 in a massively disappointing performance -- and the 23-year-old's inclusion ahead of the conservative Dan Parks is seen as a statement of attacking intent from Scotland coach Andy Robinson.

"He (Jackson) will probably have a little bit more of a dig at the defensive line, so you have to be aware of that," acknowledged Ireland defence coach Les Kiss yesterday.

"But he fits into their style. He's a young lad, it's his first start. He's turning up in a team with seven changes, so he's a lot on his plate in terms of going forward with that. I'd imagine he'll try to challenge us where he thinks he can.

"Their style won't change dramatically. They'll put it in the wide channels, kick it when they want it and try to control the game in that fashion. We don't target one player, but there certainly are ways to pressure him. I don't want to go into it in too much detail, but he has to feel pressure in certain areas, in terms of what he has available to him as options," added Kiss.

"He does tend to play the line a little more, so he needs to be attentive to his execution, accuracy in that area. We have to put real pressure on what he's hoping will provide him with outs, those spaces around him."

Ireland went the other way in their selection this week, restoring the experience of Ronan O'Gara to the key out-half slot at the expense of the younger Jonathan Sexton.

However, Kiss is quick to crush any suggestions that this change constitutes a 'handbrake' to Ireland's commitment to an attacking game-plan in favour of an uncompromising 'win at all costs' policy.


"Well we've always been about the result and that's never been in doubt," said Kiss. "A handbrake? I wouldn't call it that at all, just an understanding of how we adjust to certain circumstances to give ourselves the type of leverage we do want in a game.

"Field position is an important part of the game. Possession is an important part of the game too and it's just about getting that balance right, and that's what we've talked about. Maybe we have shifted certain priorities, but it's not a handbrake at all.

"Rog (O'Gara) is in good form," added Kiss. "But I have to say that over the last period, when he maybe hasn't got the call he might have liked, he's been unbelievably good in his approach.

"He's facilitated everything for Jonny when he's been there and that's been reciprocated. But he is itching to go, for sure, no doubt."

Team manager Paul McNaughton confirmed that Ireland had sought clarity from IRB referees' manager Paddy O'Brien on penalties that were awarded against Ireland in their opening two games.

"We approach it on two fronts -- from what we can control with our coaches and what we can't control -- with the referees' manager through that process," said McNaughton. "If you accept all the penalties you get, you do start to gain a reputation for conceding penalties.

"We've been involved in that process after the Italian and French games and there's been confirmation back that there were several penalties in the Italian game and a number of crucial ones in the French game that were errors, misjudgments against us.

"All the coaches have the right to talk to the referees' manager; we've taken up that option this year. We don't talk about it too much afterwards, we don't want to make excuses for any defeat."

Irish Independent