Sport Rugby

Tuesday 24 April 2018

O'Gara in bullish form after proving value to Irish cause

David Kelly

David Kelly

It would be trite to suggest that Ronan O'Gara is raging against the dying of the light. He isn't.

For one thing, he will soon ring up his employers and start gently haranguing them for a contract extension beyond 2013.

Secondly, he is no longer raging. Still seething quietly about Ireland's defeat to Wales in the World Cup, perhaps, but certainly not raging.

"Contrary to what certain people think, that I'm difficult if I'm left out of the starting team, that's not true," smiles the man who, technically, still holds the Irish jersey after starting that game in Wellington.

"I would like to think that if my team-mates came in here I'd be seen as the ultimate team man in terms of how I conduct myself. That is so important, that you have their respect, irrespective of what the public think.

"What is important is the value you create for your team, the presence you carry in the squad, because I think that is so much more sometimes than playing ability. I've seen plenty of good players that when the going gets tough, they walk.

"So you got to have that ability to hang in for each other, stick up for each other and fight for every single point.

"I'm enjoying my rugby. What was important was that I needed to perform the way I did at the World Cup for my own piece of mind -- because I had put myself under so much pressure, because I felt that I had so much offer to Ireland.

"Sometimes I was watching and I didn't think that I was given the opportunity. That's out of my hands.

"But once I got the opportunity I felt that I had to get picked by Declan then, the way I was playing. So that was hugely satisfactory from a personal point of view.

"I'm relaxed after the World Cup because of what had happened there. Essentially, I'd lost my place and I was doing everything possible to demonstrate that I had something to offer this team.

"That's what matters. That my team knows that ROG can still do the business for us, whether he's starting or coming off the bench.

"It was important for me to lay down a marker at the World Cup and that's the ultimate, so I think that gave me confidence."

Regrets accompany reflection. Opportunity embraces the future.

"I realise exactly where I am at the minute, 34 going on 35. There's a good No 10 there, there's two good No 10s there," he says.

"So let's have a crack off this, let's see who gets picked. If I have the value to start the game, or come on in the game, that is hugely important to me.

"At this stage, I can say I've a good record for Ireland. I enjoy playing for Ireland and it means so much to me.

"I just want to ensure that we put ourselves in the best possible position to win a Grand Slam."

Irish Independent

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