O’Gara vouches for value of being a ’one-club man’
Ronan O’Gara hopes that Ireland’s top players can see the value in ending their careers as a ‘one-club man’.
Following in the footsteps of Donnacha Ryan (who recently made his debut for O’Gara’s present employers, Racing 92), Simon Zebo announced in October that he would be leaving Munster at the end of the season for a stint in France’s Top 14.
There has also been speculation about a potential move abroad for Peter O’Mahony, and although he places great importance on the lasting reputation of a player, O’Gara also accepts that the landscape of the game is changing all the time.
“You can’t put a value on your reputation, because when you finish playing you still have a huge reputation. You only have one reputation that stays with you after your playing days. Top players in this country, I hope they realise how great it is to be playing as a one-club man,” O’Gara remarked at the Aviva Stadium yesterday.
“I think there is something extremely special about that, but I understand the environment and the finances and everything is changing. But, sometimes far away hills aren’t always greener. You could all of a sudden strike a cracking deal if you get them on a good day. Every player tests the market, they are all out there looking to get better deals.”
O’Gara was in Dublin for the launch of TV3’s coverage of the NatWest Six Nations, for which he will be working as an analyst from next February.
He had signed with TV3 long before agreeing to become assistant coach of the Crusaders in New Zealand, and while it may lead to a hectic schedule for the Cork native, he is confident of finding the right balance.
“I’ll be moving there [New Zealand] on December 28. I come back then on February 2, and I’ll have a week off agreed with the Crusaders, and that’s it.
The Six Nations is a four-year commitment to them [TV3]. I’ll get two games minimum. There might be a gap week then you might get back. But I’m looking beyond this season for TV3 as well.”
The forthcoming switch to the Crusaders represents a major leap for O’Gara, who openly admits that his current knowledge of Super Rugby is quite minimal.
From his experience of playing and coaching in the northern hemisphere, he believes a lot of emphasis is placed on pressure, and hopes this will give him an advantage during his time in Christchurch.
“I don’t know a lot about Super Rugby. I watch it a lot, but I don’t study it like they do. This side of the world we put a big emphasis on pressure, and I think they might be interested in finding out what pressure is. Hopefully I will have an advantage in that area.
“The one team that did a job on Crusaders was the Lions, and a lot of their principles would be similar to our background in rugby. It’s only when you spend a bit of time with NZ coaches. That might have been our perception, but it certainly wouldn’t be their perception of us. They are always interested in seeing how we see it.”
Ireland’s first game in next year’s Six Nations will be an away assignment against France on February 3. O’Gara expects Joe Schmidt’s side to come through this particular test, but knows from experience that France can be a dangerous proposition on an opening weekend.
“The fascinating thing about the French is that they don’t need a game to change the mood, if you understand me. Every other team needs to find form, but with the French, they can find form from their mood, which is a strange way of saying something.
“You would like to think Ireland will be too disciplined and organised for them. They are so far down the road. It’s that kind of a stadium [Stade de France], where it’s a little bit of the unknown in terms of how measured they are. But with Ireland where they are at the minute, I think it would be a big shock if Ireland weren’t to win,” O’Gara added.
Meanwhile Wales star Sam Warburton will miss the entire Six Nations and is unlikely to play again this season after knee surgery.
Warburton, who has been recovering from a neck operation he had earlier this term, is expected to be sidelined for four to six months, the Welsh Rugby Union said.
He has not played since captaining the British and Irish Lions in the third Test against New Zealand at Auckland’s Eden Park five months ago.