Ronan O'Gara plays down prospect of return to Ireland to coach Munster

Ronan O'Gara plays down prospect of return to Ireland to coach Munster
Crusaders Squad Training, Rugby Park, Christchurch, Assistant coach Ronan O'Gara. Photo Credit: ©INPHO/Photosport/John Davidson

Ronan O’Gara has played down the prospects of returning to coach Munster, insisting an Ireland role would be a greater draw if he is to return to this country.

O’Gara was speaking at a media day at Crusaders in Christchurch where he is settling into his new role as assistant coach.

Since his retirement, the former Munster and Ireland out-half has been regularly linked with coaching roles at his old province but, speaking to the New Zealand Herald, he hinted that an Ireland role would hold greater appeal.

"I enjoyed playing in Munster but I don't think coaching the players you played with is a good idea. I didn't want that so there's not a big draw to ever go back there.

"If the opportunity with Ireland presents itself it's a different decision. At the minute I'm at a massive club with a big responsibility and something that really interests me. I enjoy them day-to-day coaching and interaction with the players and international rugby is very different. You need to be hugely experienced to do that and I'm not that," he told the New Zealand Herald.

O’Gara temporarily worked as an assistant to Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt on last summer’s tour of the USA and Japan.

But he has since moved from Racing 92 to the Crusaders, joining Blues assistant Alistair Rogers as the only other foreign coach working in Super Rugby.

"It's a massive honour and hopefully a great reflection on (Crusaders head coach) Scott Robertson. He's a deep thinker on the game. He's given me an opportunity and it's up to me now to make the most of it.

Crusaders Squad Training, Rugby Park, Christchurch, Tim Tim Bateman and assistant coach Ronan O'Gara. Photo Credit: ©INPHO/Photosport/John Davidson
Crusaders Squad Training, Rugby Park, Christchurch, Tim Tim Bateman and assistant coach Ronan O'Gara. Photo Credit: ©INPHO/Photosport/John Davidson

"I wanted to come down here because I feel it's one of the best rugby clubs in the world. I've always admired the Crusaders. They're a club I've followed since I was a kid. I've watched their campaigns and never thought I'd end up here this soon.

"New Zealand is the best in the world at rugby so you need to get in here to test yourself against the best to be seen as a credible coach. That's essentially what I want to do here. I like competing; I like getting the best out of players and challenging myself.

"If you want to give a true opinion on something you've got to experience it yourself."

And while O'Gara may not be in any hurry to return to Munster, he feels he can add something of the province’s traditional strengths to the attacking style favoured by most Super Rugby setups.

"You have to play winter rugby, too. We saw that when the Lions came over. There's different ways of playing the game - one is not better than the other. Depending on the conditions and opposition it's important there's a few strings to your bow and that's exactly what we're trying to develop here."

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