IRELAND TEAM MANAGER MICK KEARNEY believes Ronan O’Gara’s time in a green jersey is not over yet and revealed that the Munster outhalf had made no mention of retiring.
Kearney, flanked by Les Kiss and Mike Ross, faced the media this afternoon, less than 24 hours after coach Declan Kidney had axed O’Gara from the squad to face France.
“There are three outhalves in the squad at the moment. Basically, it’s a selection call,” Kearney told TheScore.ie, “Declan did speak to Ronan yesterday and I think, in fairness to Declan, he wanted to give him some advance warning as to what his thinking was going to be.
“If Ronan had come in, he would have been running [in training] on the centre or on the wing. I think, as Declan said, he wanted to pay him due respect… giving him an early warning was fair as far is Ronan is concerned.”
Kearney said he did not know the full story on O’Gara’s reaction to the dropping but conceded Ireland’s record points scorer ‘was disappointed’, adding ‘I know that for a fact’.
Kearney was clear in his belief that O’Gara’s stellar Test career should not yet be consigned to the history books.
“I don’t think this marks the end of his international career,” he said. “I think there is every possibility that Ronan may be involved again.”
Asked if that meant the Italy game on 16 March, Kearney replied ‘possibly’. He added:
I don’t think, certainly, by leaving him out of the squad for the match at the weekend, it certainly wasn’t Declan’s intention that he was writing off his international career.”
The team manager also dismissed a suggestion that the IRFU should have released a statement, or comments, from Kidney clarifying the issue of O’Gara’s axing.
Kearney said, “Obviously Ronan is a legend. He’s contributed a massive amount. I don’t necessarily think that it was the right thing to do, for Declan or the management, to issue a statement. It wasn’t that we were signalling the end of his international career… I don’t think a statement was going to serve a purpose at this stage.”
Kearney also provided an update on Ireland’s injured quarter of Jonathan Sexton, Donnacha Ryan, Mike McCarthy and Craig Gilroy. McCarthy trained today and looks likely to feature against France, as does Gilroy [groin]. Ryan is not yet 100% after suffering a shoulder knock but Kearney believes the lock will win his fitness battle.
Sexton [hamstring] is back running but only in straight lines and not at full pace. He remains 50/50 for the game at Lansdowne Road this weekend.