O'Gara fires warning shot
Ronan O'Gara believes the Irish players have to prepare to come out of their club comfort zone and gear up for a "survival of the fittest" test in New Zealand, writes HUGH FARRELLY.
O'Gara captained Ireland in a one-point defeat against the Barbarians in Gloucester last night and said there were positives to be taken from the game, but stressed that the world champions will test every aspect of their make-up.
"It's survival of the fittest, we will be challenged in every department in New Zealand," said O'Gara. "You are taken out of your comfort zone at club level, it is a completely different level to anything associated to club rugby and that is what people don't understand.
"When you play for your club, there is a comfort zone. This is a whole new level and you admire guys who have proven it year after year at international level. We are going to need every one of them down there," he added.
"You play your best rugby when you're playing week-in and week-out and I thought we were off the high standards we set for ourselves tonight, especially in the first half.
"When we played our game, we were very good, we had a chance when Darren Cave went through to go nine points up, but we struggled with the interpretations of the ref, I think it was 4-1 against us.
"We're disappointed, it would have been nice to win, but there were some really encouraging things."
Ireland coach Declan Kidney was happy to report no major injury concerns arising out of the game and felt it was an essential exercise ahead of the tour.
"I thought the Barbarians played a lot better than they did on Sunday (against England). It was tough, but one that only got away from us in the last three minutes," said Kidney.
"It was a good fixture for us, because some lads had not played for about four weeks. In an ideal world you would start a tour with a win, but the Barbarians kicked a winning penalty and fair play to them. I thought Craig Gilroy and Simon Zebo did well, a lot of the younger guys did."
Kidney will finalise the remaining spots in the squad today before the Ireland players fly out from London tomorrow.