Ronan O’Gara intends to link up with Paul O’Connell in a coaching team but it will be some time yet before he is ready to come home to Ireland, writes John Fallon.
The former Irish out-half, coming to the end of his third season with Racing 92 and having signed a contract extension to 2019, believes himself and O’Connell have to cut their teeth as coaches before returning home.
And despite having three years under his belt as an assistant coach in Paris, O’Gara said that he is still at the “spoofing” stage in terms of his development and has a lot more to learn.
“I need to learn. Basically, this is only my third year as a coach, I’m nowhere near ready. I understand a lot of it, but I have no idea how to coach the attack game fluently yet.
“When you’re standing in front of Munster or Irish players, they spot a spoofer straight away. I’m still at the spoofing stage, I need to get it all on autopilot. I don’t have that at the minute, I just think it’s better for me too because you see things differently when you get out anyway,” he said.
O’Gara, capped 128 times, said O’Connell is in a similar position to him and he too heard the clamour from Munster supporters for him to get involved.
“They’d be crying out for Paulie, but then if Paulie didn’t get the results, they’d be showing him the door. We’re all aware of that. I talk to Paulie, Paulie will be an exceptionally good coach and it’s no secret of the two of ours that we want to team up. It’s about getting the right opportunity.”
O’Gara said there was nothing planned at this stage between himself and O’Connell, and nothing lined up at Racing 92.
“No, but depending on what role he is in there’s always something potentially. Any fella who has his head screwed on will be looking to snap him up. It’s a case of trying to get a plan together between us and start competing as a unit, because that’s what we both want to do.
“He’s still just readjusting and you’ve got to appreciate that too, because your head is all over the place when you come out of rugby.”
The main priority for O’Gara at the moment is guiding Racing 92 to possible glory on two fronts, with their 19-16 win over Toulon on Sunday sending them into their first Champions Cup semi-final.
They will take on Leicester Tigers on Sunday week at Welford Road but first travel to Toulouse this weekend in the Top 14, lying third in the table and six points off leaders Clermont Auvergne.
“I would have my head firmly fixed on trying to achieve something here,” said O’Gara.
“It’s a great league and it’s hugely challenging.
“There will definitely be time to come home, but it’s nowhere near. It wouldn’t be the right thing to do, to come home after three year. There’s no way you’d be developed,” added Ireland’s all-time top scorer.
This story first appeared in the Irish Examiner.