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Ronan O’Gara reckons Jack Crowley could be the ‘solution’ for Ireland

Ronan O'Gara

Ronan O’Gara believes Jack Crowley could be the answer to the question over who will back up and eventually succeed Johnny Sexton for Ireland.

Crowley wasn’t even really in the conversation a couple of months ago, although an impressive tour with Emerging Ireland and two caps for the senior national team has seen the 22-year-old thrust into the spotlight.

The Munster out-half won his first cap off the bench against Fiji, and found himself starting against Australia the following weekend after Sexton pulled out due to injury at late notice.

Neither victory against Fiji or Australia was emphatic, although they were victories all the same in which Crowley had a significant role to play.

Former Ireland out-half Ronan O’Gara was speaking on behalf of Benetti Menswear and expressed his belief that Crowley could have a very bright future ahead of him in an Ireland jersey.

Ronan O’Gara on Jack Crowley.

“I thought he was very good, I watched him develop for a number of years,” O’Gara said of Crowley.

“I think as a number 10, you get better the more you play and the more comfortable you get in that position. You can see in the development of the game, from the start to the end.

“From the start he barely saw the ball he was so nervous, and that’s understandable, because you’re thrust into a position where you’re being challenged to goal-kick, line-kick, to run a backline, to run a team, and he’s still very young and inexperienced.

“What he needs now is big games, European games for Munster, games in the Six Nations, and then World Cup warm-ups. He could be the solution.”

Munster’s options at out-half.

Crowley has enjoyed an ideal couple of months, although he has plenty of competition for the number 10 jersey at Munster, let alone for Ireland.

Joey Carbery and Ben Healy are both still performing at a high level for Munster, and as Carbery is the eldest of the lot at 27, the competition between the three could be ongoing for years to come.

Regardless of who Munster head coach Graham Rowntree sees as his first-choice out-half, O’Gara argued that now is the time to pick one and stick with him so he can develop.

“They’re spoilt for choice, there are three different players in the one position as it always falls really. The three of them fit at the same time, as a coach you don’t want that in the fact that sometimes your decisions can be made for you,” O’Gara explained.

“Munster are probably in that territory where they have to back one of them to play the first two European games. I’d say that will either be Joey Carbery or Jack Crowley. Or maybe they try to play Joey Carbery at 15 and Jack Crowley at 10.

“They probably have multiple options in that regard but I think what you expect in a big club is huge competition for places. What you don’t want to do I would think is try to keep a balancing act with keeping two of them happy.

“It just doesn’t happen at top level sport. Especially in the number 10 position I think you have to back and empower one of them.”

Coaching the Barbarians.

While La Rochelle had a couple of weekends off this month, O’Gara kept busy as he coached the Barbarians alongside his former Crusaders colleague Scott Robertson against the All Blacks XV.

While he certainly didn’t experience a typical match-day week with the Barbaians, O’Gara explained that the Baabaas were adamant to win, and win they did as they claimed a 35-31 victory against the All Blacks XV.

“It’s a great week. We were in Park Lane, a great hotel. Great restaurants, plenty of beer early in the week but also just having lazy conversations about rugby where you could look upon the game differently,” O’Gara enthused.

“What’s good about the Baabaas week is it’s a one-off week for a reason, because it’s not sustainable drinking four times a week and having to train on top of that. So that’s what makes it good because people know they have to dig in a little bit.

“But what was good was.. Razor and I, we know each other and we’re able to say things, but it wasn’t really playing for the Baabaas. We were very adamant that we wanted to win.

“If you want to win you have to be able to perform and that was what was great. The boys knew that come game day they had to be ready.

“We partied hard early in the week but from the middle of the week onwards we were in bed at a respectable hour and understanding that you can’t burn the candle at both ends.”

Ronan O’Gara pays tribute to Jerry Holland.

Rugby was put into perspective this month as Jerry Holland, who played a crucial role for Munster as a player, coach and team manager over the span of three decades, passed away at the age of 66.

Holland was heavily involved with Munster when O’Gara first started with the province, and he spoke glowingly of the impact his fellow Cork Constitution man had on him.

“It’s always when you’re the player, you don’t appreciate it. It’s with hindsight that you appreciate how good people are, and I think that’s maybe something that happens when you mature a little bit,” O’Gara explained.

“You find, I suppose, the goodness in people. When you’re a player, certainly for me, it was probably because you train to have nearly a killer mindset in terms of trying to kill the match with a kick or kill the match with a killer pass, and that shapes your thinking for such a long time.

“When you get into the coaching game, what coaching essentially is is you’re trying to get the best out of the people around you, be it staff or players, and making them feel good about themselves and for them to be authentic, to express themselves.

“Holl used to just put me in a good mood, you know? He had a great sense of humour, he was easy to slag but he was also very good at slagging me, whipping me into shape and cutting me down to size.

“He was obviously from Con and that’s where I was, but you’ll forget sometimes how good people were to you from the ages of 18 to 23.

“Then you kind of kick on because you’ve established yourself, but there were times there that I certainly felt that I was way out of my depth. Holl was able to make me feel real in a Munster dressing room with a lot of legends.”

Award winning Irish designer, Benetti Menswear, has launched their new seasonal collections for Autumn Winter ’22 with La Rochelle Head Coach and former Munster, Ireland and British & Irish Lions player Ronan O’Gara. The new Autumn Winter collections are available at featured retailers nationwide and exclusively online at Benetti.ie.

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