There may be more to the omission of Ronan O'Gara from the Irish Six Nations squad than at first meets the eye.
|Ronan O'Gara - Is his absence from the Irish squad down to other factors than purely form?|
As Ireland have trudged through a disappointing Six Nations campaign the drama and indeed excitement has been sparse to say the least. News of Ronan O'Gara's initial benching behind Paddy Jackson and subsequent omission from the entire squad was about as dramatic as it got in recent weeks. This column has come across information that would suggest that Irish coach Declan Kidney is not being entirely up front when he says O'Gara has been dropped purely due to lack of form.
As it is, Irish rugby fans have been left extremely confused by the totally bizarre handling of the whole affair. The common consensus would appear to be that, while it is clear O'Gara is probably in his final season wearing an Irish jersey (though no doubt a man as competitive as he would argue that), Jackson and the other younger players are not ready as yet. Many would suggest Kidney would have been better off letting O'Gara take Sexton's place and finish the campaign off at number 10.
It isn't just nostalgia driving such thinking, O'Gara is still one of the greatest kickers on the planet, and Ireland's pathetic kicking from the spot, with O'Gara watching from the bench, cost them their last game (before you argue that, do the maths Ireland's missed kicks, if successful, would have given us the win).
Instead, Irish fans have watched confused by recent events. Perhaps we can shine a little light on the situation.
This column has it on good authority from two reliable sources, one within the Irish camp, that O'Gara has been dropped from the Irish squad due to management's concerns with issues in his private life. The concerns are believed to have resulted in this current loss of form that O'Gara is experiencing. With that in mind, you could suggest Kidney is telling it straight, technically anyway, when he says O'Gara is out of the squad due to form.
To suggest however, as he has to the press, that the omission of one of the most important players in contemporary Irish rugby history is purely due to lack of form would appear to be misleading.
As for O'Gara himself, our sources indicate that the problems that have surfaced in his private dealings are of a nature that could conceivably affect form. The details of the issues, however, are clearly of a private nature, a matter for O'Gara alone, and delving into the ins and outs of it is not our business.
Instead, as fans of both the great number 10 and of Irish Rugby in general, we are left hoping that O'Gara can overcome the odds and find a way to finish his remarkable Irish career in style. His story-arc, the narrative of his Irish career, would hopefully demand such a Hollywood finish.
Perhaps something along the lines of being picked to play in Ireland's finalé against Italy and providing some of the masterful kicking we have seen down the years, ending in an Irish win.
|O'Gara wins the Grand Slam for Ireland v Wales 2009|
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