June series critical for Ireland's World Cup hopes: O'Gara

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Ireland great Ronan O’Gara says a series win in Australia would be a critical statement for the visitors ahead of the World Cup.

Though the Irish have been strong at points in history, they have never made it beyond the quarter-final stage at the quadrennial tournament.

After a second Test win in Melbourne, a series win is within reach for the Irish and O’Gara said if they wanted to better their World Cup history, that’s what they would require.

“Especially the way the first Test went, I think Ireland would've been disappointed with the way they played, I think they've come back strong tonight,” he said.

“I they're thinking about - there's a lot of talk in Ireland (about the World Cup), but it's crazy because we don't have form in winning the World Cup.

“These kind of guys have aspiration and fair play to them but if they're thinking of doing that in 20 months' time, they'd want to be winning the series here.

“The World Cup is a test and we've underperformed in the World Cup, so that seems to be the immediate goal to rectify.”

O’Gara, who is attending all the tests as an HSBC ambassador, said the success of Leinster was clearly transferring into the Irish setup, and said countries with their players playing at home, with the national team at their peak seemed to be pulling away from their opponents.

“The world is now a small place, I think it's going to be a global game soon and definitely a lot of transfer of players between hemispheres,” he said.

“It's a great thing, it's just if you're big in your country and you're playing Test rugby, it's very hard for you to move and that's the way it should be.

“There are fantastic opportunities out there for guys that maybe aren't able to feature in the first team and then they can go taste different hemispheres, which I think for our generation we were all brought up on discipline and loyalty and that's very important in the game as well.

“You don't want people moving every two years, so I think what's happening in world rugby at the minute is the Test teams are strong because all these guys playing for their club sides are in their home country and they get managed very well - Ireland being a case in point, New Zealand are number one.

“You could see a few more countries, maybe like Argentina, struggle a little bit and a French team don't have control of thier players.

“The English game the club is still very strong, the national team probably needs to wrestle a little bit of control. It's interesting on both fronts.”

Ronan O'Gara has re-signed with the Crusaders. Photo: Getty ImagesIreland’s highest-ever points scorer has been making his way in the coaching world, recently extending his time with Super Rugby’s Crusaders, through to the end of 2019.

Though there has been speculation he could succeed Joe Schmidt after next year’s World Cup, O’Gara said he didn’t have any immediate desires to return home.

“Obviously I've played there and had fantastic memories but it's not the be all and end all,” he said.

“I think it’s important to remember it’s a professional game and the most important thing is, you get a lot of enjoyment (in coaching),” he said.

“If coaching becomes a chore or difficult or stressful, then you're in the wrong business and it happens to a lot of coaches.

“But at the minute I enjoy it, doesn't matter what my actual title is as long as you have got buy in from your players.”

The Wallabies take on Ireland in the third June Test in Sydney on June 23, kicking off at 8:05pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS, Channel Ten and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO.