Ronan O’Gara has urged Ireland to start someone other than Johnny Sexton at out-half for next month’s encounter with Australia.
Ireland take on South Africa, Fiji and Australia in the Autumn Nations Series next month, and head coach Andy Farrell will be hoping his side win all three games and maintain their number one ranking in doing so.
The Rugby World Cup is less than a year away however, and Ireland are still reliant on a 37-year-old Sexton to run the show at out-half.
Although it looks highly unlikely that Sexton will be usurped as Ireland’s first-choice number 10 over the next year, his fitness over the next 12 months is far from guaranteed, which means developing a back-up is a priority.
Former Ireland out-half Ronan O’Gara was speaking on Off The Ball and called for either Joey Carbery or Ciarán Frawley to start against Australia, assuming a full-strength team is selected against South Africa.
Ronan O’Gara on Ireland’s priorities this November.
“The November internationals; is winning the three games the be-all and end-all? Or is actually how can we be in better shape for the next World Cup than we have been in previous campaigns?” O’Gara questioned.
“The definition of insanity is doing the exact same things over and over again and expecting a different result… If you’re looking at silverware, you need two in each position.
“I don’t think we have two [out-halves] at the minute because Joey [Carbery] has unfortunately been injured. But for me he definitely has the goods to be a top-class 10.
“The big games are obviously South Africa and Australia, bit I think it’s important with ‘Plan B’, you need to see who can manage a game and who your second 10 is going to be.”
☘️ 𝐎’𝐆𝐀𝐑𝐀’𝐒 𝟏𝟎 𝐀𝐒𝐒𝐄𝐒𝐒𝐌𝐄𝐍𝐓𝐒 🏉
🗣 ‘Is winning the three games the be all and end all…?’
Ronan O’Gara feels there is a good triangle of players fighting to be Johnny Sexton’s back-up at #RWC23 | 🏉@VodafoneIreland | #TeamOfUs pic.twitter.com/2ryrtcKueg
— Off The Ball (@offtheball) October 27, 2022
Developing depth has been at the forefront of IRFU policy.
Giving opportunities to younger players has been a priority of the IRFU’s in recent times, as seen by the two games against the Māori All Blacks in the summer and the Emerging Ireland tour of South Africa.
Many of the players who featured in those games will get another chance to wear green next month, as Ireland A take on the All Blacks XV the day before the November internationals start in earnest against South Africa.
Ireland’s first-choice team has remained largely unchanged for test matches in the past year however, and it is perhaps time to give some less experienced players the chance to step up on the big stage.
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