The New Year will bring much change to Ronan O'Gara's life. It was confirmed during the week that his career in coaching will take him to New Zealand. O'Gara will to up a role as backs coach for the Canterbury Crusaders from January 1st.
It is an intriguing move, one which will undoubtedly help him progress as a coach. Though, the Super Rugby side - one of the great wells of talent for New Zealand rugby - would not have acquired O'Gara's services without wholeheartedly believing they will also benefit.
Writing in his Irish Examiner column on Friday - the paper which a fortnight ago first broke the news that the move was on the cards - O'Gara explained how it came to be that he will depart Paris for Christchurch.
The 40-year-old says it started with a "throwaway question" from Dan Carter in the Racing 92 gym. The All Black great, who has worked with O'Gara at Racing for the past two years, asked if the former Ireland out-half would like to coach in New Zealand someday.
O'Gara's reply was a resoundingly positive. It put wheels in motion which will see his contract with Racing 92 end early.
I thought no more of it, and I doubt Dan was playing matchmaker either at the time. He presumed I was going to be at Racing 92 for a few more years.
But the weight of his conversations with the Crusaders were clearly of greater substance than he thought.
Like any shooting-the-breeze chat it passed but a while after, Dan brought the subject up again. And this time, it seemed like he wasn’t just passing time between deadlifts.
‘I hate doing this, because I want the best coaches here at Racing, but I have to tell you, the Crusaders are asking and I’ve given you a strong reference.’ Deadpan Dan. They want to pursue this.
Crusaders heach coach Scott Robertson and chief executive Hamish Riach soon contacted O'Gara regarding his interest. The eight-time Super Rugby champions were on the lookout for someone to replace 46-cap All Black Leon MacDonald as backs coach and O'Gara was their man.
Interestingly, O'Gara adds that when his time in New Zealand is up, he has already agreed with him family that they will move back to Paris.
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