'The Crusaders are asking and I've given you a strong reference' - Dan Carter's role in Ronan O'Gara's move
Ronan O'Gara has revealed that former All Blacks fly-half Dan Carter played a major role in his move to the Canterbury Crusaders next year.
O'Gara will leave French side Racing 92 at the end of next month and take up a coaching role with the Super Rugby champions on January 1.
In his column in today's Irish Examiner, the former Ireland out-half revealed that Carter was instrumental in the move gaining traction.
"This all kicked off with a throwaway comment in the gym," wrote O'Gara.
"Or what I presumed at the time was a throwaway question from Dan Carter. Would I like to coach in New Zealand some time?
"Of course I would. I thought no more of it, and I doubt Dan was playing matchmaker either at the time. Like any shooting the breeze chat it passed but after a while, Dan brought up the subject again.
"And this time it seemed like he wasn't just passing time between deadlifts. 'I hate doing this, because I want the best coaches here at Racing, but I have to tell you, the Crusaders are asking and I've given you a strong reference'."
O'Gara added that Carter's conversations with his former side clearly held more weight than he may have initially thought, and that a call from Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson soon followed.
O'Gara, who has been with the French club since 2013 and was contracted until the end of next season, negotiated a release to allow him take up his new position in Christchurch in which he will join Robertson's side on a one-year deal followed by an end-of-season review by both parties.
Former New Zealand captain Richie McCaw spent his entire playing career with the Crusaders and he is excited to see how his former adversary gets on in what is a rare move by a Northern Hemisphere coach.
"It's quite exciting from a Crusaders point of view to have a first Northern Hemisphere influence," he said.
"I'm guessing that the time Ronan had at Racing around guys like Dan Carter and Casey Laulala, he felt it was the right place to go. The Crusaders boys will ask the same questions.
"There is no doubt that he has a pretty good rugby brain and he will bring new ideas that the Crusaders boys will be keen to hear."