Former Irish and Lions legend Ollie Campbell is surprised at Ronan O’Gara’s treatment by national coach Declan Kidney with only weeks to go to the completion of the RBS 6 Nations Championship.
Kidney has taken O’Gara out of the equation for the game against France, and possibly Italy, replacing him as Jonathan Sexton’s back-up with youngsters Paddy Jackson and Ian Madigan.
But Campbell has warned nobody should rush to write off O’Gara, even though the iconic out-half is now well into the autumn of his career.
“I wouldn’t write his epitaph just yet,” insisted Campbell, who only last week questioned the wisdom of Kidney’s decision to promote Jackson ahead of the Munster man for the Scotland game.
“It was,” said the conservative Campbell at the time, “a courageous decision; I would even hide behind the word courageous.”
The words were spoken before the Scotland match and made in a measured context when he suggested O’Gara’s goal-kicking attributes were probably going to be more important than Jackson’s attacking capabilities.
Jackson’s selection for that game was controversial, not least following his failure to nail crucial goal-kicking chances in a tightly fought contest, won 12-8 by Scotland after surviving an almost non-stop barrage by Ireland.
In the aftermath of that defeat, Campbell still believes O’Gara has a part to play at the highest level, irrespective of his uncharacteristic error that ultimately might have cost Ireland the match in Edinburgh.
Campbell is not the only one who believes O’Gara’s axing was a rash decision. Former Ireland full-back and current Harlequin’s director of rugby Conor O’Shea claims O’Gara has nothing to prove.
“Of course he does have something to offer, Rog has a terrible lot left in him, he’s a huge competitor and competitors don’t go way that easily. What’s happened to him is something that will surely help drive him on to prove people wrong; that’s what he has done his whole career so I have no doubt he will keep working away to see what else comes along.”
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