Johnny Sexton fully expects Ronan O’Gara to become a Munster coach in the future now that the former Ireland out-half is making an impact at Racing 92.
The Top 14 club will face Saracens in the Champions Cup final this weekend, with O’Gara playing a key role as Racing 92’s defence coach.
Sexton, who was at Racing for two years as O’Gara was taking his first steps into his coaching career, believes that the Cork man has become an influential figure at the club and has a bright future ahead.
“Rog’s input when I was there was limited in the first year. He got more involved in the second year, when his French was better, and he knew the coaches better. I presume he’s taken a bigger role this year,” Sexton said.
“A lot has changed this year over there, from speaking to Rog. His influence would have been key on the whole environment and how the team is run.” Although defence was often viewed as a weakness in O’Gara’s game as a player, the 39-year-old has brought a robustness to Racing’s rearguard and the French side go into Saturday’s final with the best defensive record in the tournament.
Racing conceded just 70 points in the pool stages and held both Toulon and Leicester Tigers to just 16 points each in the quarter-finals and semi-finals, respectively. However, Sexton believes that O’Gara’s short-term future will be as the architect of Racing’s attack and that it is inevitable that his career will bring him back to Ireland.
“I think his role should be what he’s known for — his skills. Obviously, as an out-half, his expertise was in attack. If they gave him the attack, he would have more of an influence. He has been given the defence and you can see that is the most organised part of their game,” Sexton said.
“We became great friends. We spent a lot of time together over there. Working day-to-day was great, just chatting to him because it was really tough when I was first there. I think he has a real future in coaching. He is contracted there for another few years.
“Then, you could see him coming back to Munster or even Ireland. You never know. He has done it the right way. He went away. He is building into it.”
Sexton has no hard feelings about his exit from Racing after two seasons in Paris; nor is he envious they have reached a European final this year.
“I was really happy for the guys [to reach the final]. They have got some quality players in Chris Masoe, Dan Carter, Joe Rokocoko, three influential guys in the team. You could see that they were the three most influential players on the pitch against Leicester in the semi-final,” Sexton said.
“You need a not of luck to get to the final and once you get there, you’ve a great chance of winning it. It’s probably 50-50 now for them but it will be a tough game against Saracens. I think Saracens are the best English side, so it will be a tough final.”
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