Ronan O’Gara admits his demotion as Ireland’s first choice fly-half last autumn forced him to address his loss in form.
O’Gara will continue in the number 10 jersey for Saturday’s RBS 6 Nations clash with France in Paris with a fit-again Jonathan Sexton likely to feature on the bench.
It will be his second start since losing his place to Sexton for the 15-10 victory over South Africa in November.
A near-immaculate display in last Saturday’s 29-11 victory over Italy, in which he kicked 16 points without missing a shot at goal, continued an impressive spell for the Munster veteran.
“It hurts when you’re dropped. It’s very disappointing, especially when you care about the team so much,” said O’Gara.
“When it happens you try to see where you can make improvements.
“You look at yourself harder but usually your first reaction is to try and blame other people and not yourself.
“When you’re dropped there’s no need to panic. I had to go away, sort things out and come back.
“I think I’ve been playing well this season, though I didn’t goalkick well. That’s a fact and you have to be criticised for these things.
“I needed to address that and that’s what I did. I was happy in my own head, even when things weren’t going so well.
“Small things at this level make a big difference, there was nothing big that needed changing.”
A clearer picture should emerge today on whether Sexton will be available to face the Six Nations favourites.
The 24-year-old from Leinster missed the opener against Italy with a dead leg but has been included among an extended bench and coach Declan Kidney is confident he will be fit.
“Jon has been making a good recovery and the final stage of that should be achieved today when he goes place kicking,” said Kidney.
“We’re in the lucky position of having two good fly-halves and Ronan’s experience will be more than helpful going to Paris.”
Kidney’s plans for France have been affected by a chaotic injury list that has claimed Donncha O’Callaghan once again, so Leo Cullen continues to deputise alongside Paul O’Connell at lock.
Back row enforcer Stephen Ferris will be given every chance to prove his fitness, confronting him with a race against time to overcome the knee problem that forced him out against the Azzurri.
“We’ll make a decision as soon as we can with Stephen, but sometimes you don’t make a decision until you have to,” said Kidney.