Players to blame, says O’Gara

RONAN O’GARA has insisted the Munster players are the ones to blame for the province’s Thomond Park defeat to Harlequins last Saturday.

Munster’s Amlin Challenge Cup exit and the failure to reach the Heineken Cup knockout stages for the first time in 13 seasons have been greeted with a considerable amount of soul-searching in Tony McGahan’s camp and beyond.

Some have rounded on the Munster head coach as the scapegoat for Saturday’s 12-20 surrender at fortress Thomond but speaking yesterday after a Lucozade Sport hydration workshop at the University of Limerick, the veteran fly-half came to the defence of not just McGahan but outgoing forwards coach Laurie Fisher and backs coach Jason Holland.

“It’s easy to blame them but the players were poor the last day. So let’s take it on the chin, put your hand up, we played a bad game and they didn’t coach us to play like that.

“An easy way of addressing a poor performance is blaming these fellas,” he said.

O’Gara, 33, signed a new two-year IRFU contract that will keep him at Munster for two more seasons and he expects some changes in personnel for the 2011-12 campaign.

“There’s obviously one or two areas that need to be addressed and irrespective of how this next four weeks go, there’s probably one or two things we need to sort out in the summer and drive it on next year.”

In the meantime, Munster still have the Magners League in their sights and will round off the regular season this Friday night against Connacht at Thomond Park before a home semi-final the following weekend.

O’Gara believes Saturday’s defeat to Harlequins would not cast a shadow over the rest of the current campaign.

“I hope so but if you’re being honest there has to be areas to be addressed and learned from.

“Everyone needs to do that and have a look at themselves, otherwise this will come back to bite you again. I think there’s a fair bit of learning to be taken out of it whether you’ve one cap or 101 caps. Everyone can keep learning and that’s the beauty of sport. The time you stop working on your game or stop analysing yourself then you’re going nowhere. The pleasing thing was that you could see the fellas were hurting all right this week. It’s a bit late obviously but if the mood was good you’d be going ‘this team is going nowhere’.”

The Ireland fly-half said there had been some strong messages made by McGahan at yesterday’s team meeting.

“There was no heart to heart,” O’Gara said. “Tony told us our performance was unacceptable and I don’t think there was anybody in the room disagreeing with him.


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