Roy Keane once warned Ronan O’Gara that the All Blacks had the Ireland fly-half firmly in mind ahead of a test match back in 2008.
O’Gara was a vital player for Ireland back in 2008, and New Zealand would have been well aware that disrupting the fly-half’s game would put the Irish under massive amounts of pressure.
New Zealand would have been strong favourites to beat Ireland regardless, especially as the match was taking place on their home turf in Wellington, but O’Gara was expecting the All Blacks to target him nonetheless.
Keane spent time with the All Blacks squad in Wellington on the week of the match and revealed in an interview with The Times that New Zealand had in fact prioritised O’Gara before the game.
Roy Keane on the All Blacks targeting Ronan O’Gara.
“So Ronan is there. He wants to know about the All Blacks,” Keane said of a dinner he had with O’Gara, Paul O’Connell and Alan Quinlan the week of the match.
“‘How are you getting on with them Roy?’ O’Gara asked. ‘Brilliant. They’re good lads. Ye know ye are in for a tough game,’ Keane responded.
“‘Can I ask you something?’ ‘Go on.’ ‘Have they mentioned me?’ I swear he hasn’t had his main course yet! Do I lie? ‘To be honest Ronan, they mentioned you on Monday morning at nine o clock.’
“I fucking knew it! They’re fucking always going after me!” O’Gara said.
“It was brilliant. I went to the test match on Saturday. The weather was atrocious. One of the worst games ever.”
The All Blacks overcame Ireland in an arm wrestle.
Although New Zealand did beat Ireland, O’Gara and co. gave a good account of themselves, as they fought to a 21-11 loss in wet and windy conditions in Wellington.
The game was actually tied at 11-11 with 20 minutes to go, but a Dan Carter penalty and a Ma’a Nonu try secured a 10-point win for the All Blacks in their first test since getting knocked out of the 2007 Rugby World Cup at the quarter-final stage.
New Zealand asserted their dominance over Ireland later in the year, when they recorded a 22-3 victory against the men in green in Croke Park in November, in one of O’Gara’s 13 losses to the All Blacks over the course of his career.