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Dublin: 15 °C Wednesday 20 August, 2014

‘When Paul O’Connell is there, anything is possible’ – Ronan O’Gara

The Racing Métro coach has questioned the commitment of his players after their Heineken Cup slump.

Ronan O'Gara is six months into his first stint as a rugby coach.
Ronan O'Gara is six months into his first stint as a rugby coach.
Image: Sky Sports

RONAN O’GARA HAS delivered a damning indictment of his Racing Métro team ahead of their Heineken Cup clash with Clermont Auvergne.

The former Munster out-half is now part of the coaching staff at the Top 14 club. Racing began their Heineken Cup campaign with a home win over Clermont but have drawn one and lost their three other European matches. The Parisian club, who are eighth in the league, will be playing for pride this weekend as a place in the Amlin Cup is out of reach.

In an interview with Sky Sports, the Cork man admitted Racing are falling well short of the standards he was used to at his former club. O’Gara describes his first six months coaching rugby as ‘difficult but hugely enjoyable’. “The myth would be that I’m there as Jonny Sexton’s kicking coach but I’m there, essentially, as a third coach to Laurent Labit and Laurent Travers,” he added.

Looking ahead to Sunday’s match at Stade Marcel Michelin, O’Gara commented, “I wish there was that pressure to perform because at the minute [there] seems to be a lack of accountability. It’s difficult to put your finger on. I think, at the moment, we have so many different cultures, so many different players. We don’t have the consistency of performance; it’s lacking. The management is doing everything within their power to gel the team but it is taking longer than we thought.

From my point of view, it has been so different to Munster. Nonetheless, it is such a huge learning curve. At Munster it’s people playing for each other while here it’s a small bit [like] is that really happening?”

O’Gara is keeping an eye on Munster’s Heineken Cup journey and occasionally slipped in a ‘we’ when talking about a club he gave his entire professional rugby career to. “The first challenge,” he said, “is getting the home quarter final and if Munster succeed in that they are going to be bloody difficult to beat at Thomond Park. It all depends on where the [semi final] goes.

O’Gara believes that Munster’s next generation of players took confidence, and heart, from pushing Clermont so close in their semi final last season, a game that was to prove the out-half’s last game in the red jersey. “All these younger players realised that they are up to this level; they should be lifting cups. And that’s an important mental shift that they made in the summer.” He added:

No better than when Paulie [O'Connell] is there because, when he is there, anything is possible.”

Munster, he says, are a few rungs up the ladder from where they were last season. His challenge at Racing Métro is to follow his former side up that ladder as quickly as possible.

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