Ronan O’Gara will certainly be clocking up the air miles over the coming weeks.
The Corkman is currently getting to grips with his new role as assistant coach to Scott Robertson’s Crusaders in Christchurch but as preparations ramp up for the beginning of the new Super Rugby season, O’Gara will have to divide his time travelling between New Zealand and Ireland to fulfil his punditry duties for TV3’s coverage of the 2018 NatWest 6 Nations.
O’Gara is in the studio this afternoon for the broadcaster’s coverage of today’s opening games and host, Joe Molloy, asked O’Gara about his experiences thus far in Christchurch.
“The skill level which the forwards hold the ball, that has kind of sprung at me when there are fitness games being done in pre-season,” O’Gara said.
“In my time you might be able to know who the backs and forwards are, over there it’s a little bit… the ease at which they can pass the ball left to right, right to left…”
Of course, New Zealand have led the way in developing their forwards in more aspects of the game, especially with regards to skill levels but O’Gara also said that there were lessons learned in New Zealand from the experiences of the British and Irish Lions tour.
“But they were fascinated by the Lions tour as well,” O’Gara continued.
“I think that left a big print on their mentality.”
Ultimately, it provided a bit of an eye-opener in terms of the different ways of playing the game. The Lions limited eventual Super Rugby champions, the Crusaders, to just three points in Christchurch as Warren Gatland’s side suffocated their hosts in a high-pressure gameplan.
“Different ways of playing the game. I think the northern hemisphere teams are very impressive at a pressure game.”
“I think the Crusaders scored three points in that game against the Lions. So they completely reevaluated their game after they played them, and as a result, they won the championship.
“Something like the expertise of Conor Murray’s consistent box-kicking, you don’t have to play everything from 80 metres out.
“So different ways of playing the same game.”