Ronan O'Gara: 'Isn’t it time Ireland was winning another Grand Slam?'

"Beating Gregor Townsend’s men is less a win in its own right than it is a means to an end now."

Ronan O'Gara: 'Isn’t it time Ireland was winning another Grand Slam?'

Ronan O'Gara has said that he hopes the Irish rugby team is full of talk about winning a Grand Slam ahead of their penultimate Six Nations clash with Scotland.

Writing in his Irish Examiner column, O'Gara says the days of Ireland being underdogs are over and the team must accept that they are the number three team in the world at the moment.

"Eight months of hard graft and meticulous preparation is down the toilet if they do the unthinkable and lose at home to Scotland tomorrow," O'Gara writes.

"Beating Gregor Townsend’s men is less a win in its own right than it is a means to an end now.

"Gone are the days of Ireland’s rugby underdogs taking scalps. The lads have to accept their position as the No 3 side in the world now. Isn’t it time Ireland was winning another Grand Slam?"

O'Gara feels that no one in Carton House should be "regressing back to old Ireland, ‘let’s put it up em’, type of stuff."

I find it nigh unthinkable that a Joe Schmidt Ireland would lose in Dublin tomorrow to a Scotland side which has forgotten how to win away from Murrayfield. Don’t tell me the reasons it’s possible. I’m not having it.

O'Gara feels Scotland have had a few impressive scalps (Australia, South Africa and most recently England) but they have "a serious mental issue" playing games outside of Murrayfield.

Joe Schmidt has welcomed Tadhg Furlong back to his team, while Garry Ringrose is set to make his first start of the Championship in the centre.

Schmidt has also been able to call on Iain Henderson, returning to the bench after missing the Wales game.

Ringrose made his Leinster return last weekend after an ankle injury in January and O'Gara feels the 23-year old will offer something different to the two players who have previously worn the 13 jersey for Ireland in this Six Nations.

"What Ireland lose in (Chris) Farrell and (Robbie) Henshaw they gain in Ringrose’s ability to give the back line a different flow, says O'Gara.

A natural glider with great feet, he will open up the outside channels a little easier than you would with Farrell or an Aki-Henshaw partnership.

A win for Ireland against Scotland will tee up the opportunity for a Grand Slam title against England in Twickenham on March 17.

Ireland's game with Scotland kicks off at 2.15pm at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

Read RonanO'Gara's column in full here.

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