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Ronan O’Gara reveals most vital lesson he learnt from Crusaders’ Scott Robertson

Ronan O'Gara

Ronan O’Gara has revealed that Scott Robertson’s method of setting up young players was the most vital lesson he learnt from his time in New Zealand.

Robertson is one of the most highly-rated coaches in the world at the moment, as he has won four Super Rugby titles and two regional New Zealand titles since taking over the Crusaders in 2017.

Prior to taking over as La Rochelle’s head coach in 2019, O’Gara worked as a backs coach under Robertson at the Crusaders for two years, a stint which significantly aided his coaching development.

O’Gara was speaking on Off The Ball about developing young players at La Rochelle and revealed he has followed Robertson’s blueprint since arriving at the club.

Ronan O’Gara on developing young players.

“I think that was the one big thing that I found refreshing during my time with Scott Robertson – how he sets up young players to succeed. I really bought into that,” O’Gara explained.

“I remember being that young player but then as you get older you forget and you becoming the experienced player, but I think there’s a definite formula for seeing the best in young players and how you can set them up.

“That’s very much to the fore of my mind because you can always say, ‘Next time give the advantage to the experienced player.’ Young players don’t feel pain. They don’t spend time on the ground, they hop off the ground, they don’t get hurt.

“When older players have miles on the clock you think about things. I think when you’re under 25 you don’t really think, you act first. While people who understand their bodies with time and experience, they know how to manage it.

“But the fearlessness of youth is always a great element in your team and you have to mix that with experience because you can’t have an OAP team. You need to mix it.”

Positive start to the season for the European champions.

La Rochelle have got off to a great start in the Top 14 season, as they have won their two opening games against Montpellier and Lyon and currently sit in second place in the table behind Toulouse.

The start is even more impressive considering Montpellier were crowned as Top 14 champions last season while Lyon won the Challenge Cup in May, as La Rochelle proved why they became European champions for the first time this year.

Up next for La Rochelle is a home game tomorrow against Perpignan, who narrowly avoided relegation last season and currently sit in last place on the Top 14 table.

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