Ronan O'Gara: All Blacks thrive in the most challenging mental circumstances imaginable

Ronan O'Gara admits that playing the All Blacks down the years was often like 'facing monsters with four legs and four arms'.

Ronan O'Gara: All Blacks thrive in the most challenging mental circumstances imaginable

Ronan O'Gara admits that playing the All Blacks down the years was often like 'facing monsters with four legs and four arms'.

The Ireland legend, now winning plaudits for his coaching acumen at the Crusaders, lost to New Zealand all 13 times he played them in green.

But in his insightful column for the print edition of Friday's Examiner Sport, he explains how the dynamic of Ireland-New Zealand clashes has changed, even if the All Blacks are still the game's benchmark.

He writes: 'Don’t feel too bad for Hansen’s nice All Blacks either. They’re not that nice. There’s no nice at this level, let’s get that straight. To be that good, you have to be absolutely ruthless, and your mindset has to be the same."

O'Gara says the pressure on Steve Hansen and his players is relentless, and yet the coach and players remain an oasis of calm.

"It’s no bad time to get a bit respectful of what New Zealand continue to do year in, year out. They are entitled to lose a game, though they

rarely do.

They consistently prevail, sometimes in the most challenging mental circumstances imaginable, in arenas in different parts of the world which specialise in conjuring up terrifying ferocity.

"Every single test match they play is against opposition playing 20% above themselves because it’s the All Blacks in the other corner.

"They must be weary from playing mini World Cup finals, because that’s what the opposition turn every test into. Every single time.

"Put yourself in Beauden Barrett’s shoes, or Dan Carter’s before him, or Kieran Read or Sam Whitelock’s. It’s a fair challenge to be submerged in all that and rise to it every single time."

Don't miss O'Gara's full column in Friday's Examiner Sport

More in this section

Sport
Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox