Monday 20 November 2017

This is not end for O'Gara in green shirt, insist backroom pair

Conor George

Conor George

NEITHER Mick Kearney nor Les Kiss ruled out the possibility of Ronan O'Gara featuring with Ireland again before the end of the Six Nations.

Both men acknowledged that it is unlikely he will be recalled for the final game against Italy a week from Saturday but hedged their bets.

"Obviously injuries could play a part in it (recall) for a start," said team manager Kearney.

"Ronan played well against the Ospreys on Saturday night. He hasn't been ruled out of selection. The decision has gone the other way this week, but things can change very quickly and suddenly he could be back.

"Declan was by no means signalling the end of Ronan's international career by leaving him out of the squad for this week.

"This was a selection call. Might he be involved again? Absolutely."

It is, of course, difficult to envisage a situation where O'Gara is recalled for the trip to Italy. Three out-halves were included in the squad but the unwillingness of either Kearney or defence coach Kiss to completely sever all ties was interesting.

That's the bizarre situation the Irish rugby squad now finds itself in and the bemused smile on Mike Ross' face when the situation about O'Gara's non-selection and potential future was being discussed was indicative of the confusion that reigns.

"You're always aware that at anytime something like this can happen to you," acknowledged Ross. "It's actually part of what drives you. It's hanging over us all, that there's some guy waiting to take your place. If you're not conscious of it, then you're not performing as well as you should be."

Kearney offered the suggestion that O'Gara (left) was dropped out of respect for the 128-times capped out-half as the management had decided to go with Madigan and Jackson for this week.

"Ronan would have been running in the centre or on the wing in training and it was felt it was better to leave him out of the mix as a result," explained Kearney.

Kiss did admit that there was an element of jumping into the unknown without O'Gara's comforting presence in the mix but believes the two young out-halves are capable of making a statement this weekend.

"You do lose that experience but it's up to others to step up now. I'm one for believing that these young guys have it in them," he said.

"They need to feel that extra pressure and what comes with this next level and trust that they'll get the job done.

"I'm not expecting them to be perfect and to be able to handle everything at 100pc, but I don't think even an experienced guy would.

"If Paddy's starting and Ian's on the bench, then we just have to back that they're going to deal with it and prepare them as well as possible. There are other guys around the park that are there to help them as well."

Irish Independent

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