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Ronan O'Gara Caught 'Off Guard' By More Ambitious Ireland

Ronan O'Gara Caught 'Off Guard' By More Ambitious Ireland
By PJ Browne
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Though he'd had conversations with Ireland coach Paul O'Connell recently about different styles of play, Ronan O'Gara was still surprised by Ireland's more attacking approach against Japan at the weekend. It seems his former teammate had not let slip what was up Ireland's sleeve.

"I'd chatted to Paul a little bit, not necessarily about Ireland, but about rugby, and what they were looking to do, and what teams are looking to do," said O'Gara at the announcement of his partnership with Benetti.

"You could see that it all came together for them really well in that attacking kicks [were used], threatening backs behind forwards were running great lines, backs were putting forwards through holes, backs were putting backs through holes, backs were putting a kick through for backs, backs were putting kicks through for forwards.

"The interplay was really good. The capacity for the forwards to play the ball out of the tackle.... There were statistics that you wouldn't associate at all with an Irish team.

"It's hugely, and pleasantly surprising. It caught an awful lot of people, me included, off guard, because I was expecting more of a structured game. It just shows that when you get buy-in, and belief in another way of playing, it made it so interesting to watch."

Irish menswear company Benetti has announced a two-year partnership with former Munster, Ireland and British & Irish Lions player Ronan O’Gara.
O’Gara will front Benetti’s new campaign and its Autumn Winter ’21 collection which is available at featured retailers nationwide and exclusively online at Benetti.ie


O'Gara expects that Andy Farrell will make "very few changes" to the line-up for this weekend's game against the All Blacks, and that they will again show the same attacking intent.


Ronan O'Gara: 'We all have a stomach full of the box kick'

"They have been looking to play like that for a long time," said the La Rochelle head coach.

"Obviously against Japan they got so many of the elements right, and they were probably aided by a team that maybe underappreciated Ireland, the fact that the last time they played them they said, 'We have these guys, and we can put it up to these guys'.

"Like, Saturday was such a mismatch on so many fronts that Japan were humiliated in most departments of rugby. You can pick them apart, but that would be an error on my behalf, because they put it up to Australia.


"Australia are a good team now, and they've improved, and that was the second last game for Australia, so Japan have something about them, but didn't show it in Dublin.

"They weren't allowed to show it because Ireland got their approach spot on, but it clicked with the idea of hitting space.

"So many coaches use that, but I think for me it's a perfect example of what the coach is looking for. He's looking for the players to back their instincts and back their decisions and play that ball at the space.


"That was probably epitomised best by James Lowe running great lines outside his 22, but that's probably an irregular line for a lot of wingers, but he's been given free reign by management to go get as many touches on the ball and run holes as much as he can."

2 April 2021; La Rochelle head coach Ronan O'Gara before the Heineken Champions Cup Round of 16 match between Gloucester and La Rochelle at Kingsholm Stadium in Gloucester, England. Photo by Matt Impey/Sportsfile


O'Gara continued: "It's important because I think we all have a stomach full of the box kick.


"That was probably the most pleasing aspect of last week, the fact there are other options to exit with, there are other ways of playing the game.

"The box kick doesn't need to be the solution for everything and I don't think that's been the Irish mentality, but it has been certainly a factor for a long number of years.

"We could see last weekend that you can shift the point of attack or defence in numerous capacities to play at the other people's skills, especially with left-footers, right-footers.


"I think it will be very interesting because I don't think there will be a shift away from this. This is what they've been looking for, but I didn't think they expected to get where they are as quick as they did, and that's a credit to the work going on behind the scenes."

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