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Ronan O’Gara biding his time for dream return home as beloved Munster get set for yet another European odyssey

PHOTO: EMIL TRAHAN, LIMERICK VOICE

Munster rugby legend Ronan O’Gara has affirmed his desire to one day return and coach his home province Munster but readily admits that he is happy to wait for the pieces to fall in to place before stepping up to the plate and departing his current role in New Zealand.

Speaking at the Off the Ball Roadshow event taking place in the University Concert Hall on Thursday night, October 11, O’Gara spoke of his desire to come home and reconnect with the people of Munster, reminiscing on his own time in both the red and green jerseys and his craving to succeed whenever the time is right to make the move back home once again.

“Seeing those moments in red and in green, of course if it’s your home place you’d love to do well because I think you could potentially rekindle that connection with the supporters and get that fortress going,” he said.

“You look at the Limerick hurlers this year, I was in Kerry on my own and I was in tears watching it going ‘is there something wrong with me?’

“I think there’s something beautiful about Irish sport on a day like that and obviously they know where they’re coming from but to an outsider, this is quite amazing.”

Ronan O’Gara and Keith Wood at the Off The Ball event held in the University Concert Hall. Photo: Emil Trahan, Limerick Voice.

It’s been busy to say the least for O’Gara since making the swift move in to the world of coaching following his retirement from playing duties in 2013 and five years on, his stock continues to rise fresh off the back of helping New Zealand side the Crusaders to a second consecutive Super Rugby title.

There are a lot of factors to take in to consideration when plotting his next move, family being the primary one, but for O’Gara, it’s something he believes will work itself out in time.

“It depends what road do you want to go. Do you want to be on-field coach or do you want to be a Director of Rugby or do you want to be a Head Coach? All of those things are in your head but I’m always of the opinion that it’ll work itself out. I genuinely think that. I know what I’m doing this season. Next season? No I don’t.”

O’Driscoll and O’Gara were the special guests of the special event, which was held in association with Heineken Rugby Club. Photo: Emil Trahan

As for his home club Munster, they are mere hours away from getting another European campaign up and running against English side Exeter in Sandy Park (today, October 13, 3.15pm).

Speaking alongside O’Gara, Brian O’Driscoll spoke of the challenge Johann Van Graan’s side are tasked with this weekend against one of the powerhouses of English rugby in one of European rugby’s most formidable venues.

“I think Exeter are primed to compete for Europe now,” O’Driscoll said. “They’ve been consistently good for the last five years. They’ve been in three Premiership finals, won one.

“They’re consistently a phenomenal side to watch, home and away, and I think that’s the secret in Europe. It’s a massive test for Munster this weekend. There’s not many more difficult places to go and play in Europe than Sandy Park and I think a losing bonus point, I don’t think they’d be devastated.”

Brian O’Driscoll joined the Off The Ball team for the live podcast. Photo: Emil Trahan, Limerick Voice

Whilst admitting that a losing bonus point would be a satisfactory result, former Munster and Irish star Keith Wood stressed how losing bonus points would be far removed from the mindset of players and management as they travel to Exeter looking to make a statement on the opening day of the European campaign.

“They’re not talking about it [losing bonus point] and what they’re probably talking about it is if we are in a bad position, this is what we have to do to try to get to that one point. They have to go with a view of winning which is the only reason you turn up and put a jersey on in the first place.

“They’re [Exeter] trying to get the best out of some people that are local, some people who haven’t really struck gold elsewhere. They seem to get the most out of a group of players who are not All-Stars.

“For a place like Munster, yea we’d appreciate that a lot. We would respect the fact that that’s how they do it and the best way to show respect is to try beat them at home so look, I think a losing bonus point would be good but I wouldn’t be looking for it. You have to try push it up to the highest level.”

Push it to the highest level they will. Whether that will be good enough or not, we’ll simply have to sit tight, wait and see.

Munster: Mike Haley; Andrew Conway, Dan Goggin, Rory Scannell, Keith Earls; Joey Carbery, Duncan Williams; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, Stephen Archer; Jean Kleyn, Tadhg Beirne; Peter O’Mahony (C), Chris Cloete, CJ Stander.

Replacements: Rhys Marshall, James Cronin, John Ryan, Billy Holland, Tommy O’Donnell, Neil Cronin, JJ Hanrahan, Sammy Arnold.

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