Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

Old gunslinger O’Gara can be the man to fire Ireland to a much-needed Scots win

Jonathan Sexton’s injury and absence means that the outhalf position has been thrown into the spotlight.

 

Do you go for vast experience in Ronan O’Gara knowing that his best days are behind him or throw a youngster in at the deep end? If the latter, on current form I believe that Ian Madigan would have the greatest claim given the way that he has played for Leinster this season. Yet, the fact that Paddy Jackson got the nod in the extended squad ahead of Madigan shows just how highly regarded he is. Declan Kidney will surely revert to ROG and, if so, I understand why.

He is like an ageing gunslinger who might be running out of bullets, but he understands what it takes to win. ROG’s best days came behind a dominant Munster pack and a world class pass from Peter Stringer.

Yes, he had a poor day against England, but there are mitigating factors.

It was horrendous weather, Ireland’s pack was under pressure, this impacted on Conor Murray, and it is incredibly difficult to step into that situation off the bench.

ROG is not a natural bench animal — it might be partly ego, but it’s far more a raging competitive streak.

He likes to be the main man and call the shots. I have no doubt that he will be galvanised by the knowledge that he will be starting.

He will have everyone organised this week and that is important when you already have inexperience and youth in the team. This Sunday is about winning, nothing else, and if it means a slight step back in terms of the style of play, so be it.

Kidney will demand that his pack dominate the Scots. With a solid platform and quality service, I believe that ROG still has the class to pull out a high quality performance.

But the foundations have got to be in place and this depends on what happens in front of him.

ROG still has one or two bullets left and I believe that he will fire them on Sunday.

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