Ronan O’Gara believes Ireland’s bench will be an important factor in tomorrow evening’s visit to the Principality Stadium to play Wales, but hopes it won’t feature “a sulker”.
Both management teams have gone with unchanged sides, and writing in his Irish Examiner column on Friday, O’Gara feels the restlessness among Ireland’s replacements will prove an advantage, singling out Munster captain Peter O’Mahony.
“Ireland’s bench should be filled with positive crankiness. I am not sure the Wales bench will be the same.
“Peter O’Mahony must be beyond agitated at this stage. He’s contrary, cranky but examine the decision from Joe Schmidt’s point of view: Who is he to leave out? O’Mahony is very close, he’s got to hang in there.
“Now, imagine what he is like if and when he does get a sniff of the jersey? A substitute that’s ready can have as much of an impact in 15 minutes as a starter. But 90% of the time, the sulker has spent half the week with the coffee club bitching about who’s starting. When the call comes he’s like ‘uh oh, mentally off the pitch’.
O’Gara also sees the logic in Schmidt’s preference for Tommy Bowe over Craig Gilroy, who performed well against Italy.
“Craig Gilroy delivered in Rome and he’s sitting at home this week with Tommy Bowe is on the bench. The younger man has reason to be frustrated. But look through Joe’s strategy - away game, a cauldron, does it suit Ireland if Ringrose, Henshaw and Gilroy are finishing the game?
And O’Gara hopes none of Ireland’s back-up players will be “a sulker” in Cardiff.
“Stay tuned in. When you come on, you’ve got to be good. If not, it justifies the coach’s decision. You are playing a game versus the coach and the opposition. That’s where you derive your motivation.”
Read Ronan O’Gara’s analysis of Wales v Ireland in Friday’s print edition of the Irish Examiner.