Ronan O'Gara believes Ireland were guilty of “falling in love with ourselves” ahead of their World Cup quarter-final against Wales and blew their chance of reaching a first semi-final.
O'Gara, who will make his 100th Heineken Cup appearance when Munster take on the Scarlets in Llanelli this afternoon, describes the World Cup as a a massive regret and, in a revealing range of comments, expresses his desire to tour New Zealand next summer and Australia in 2012 with the Lions before possibly embarking on a career in coaching when he retires.
“After the Australia game, I could see that being a big turning point for the team, but we blew it against Wales,” he said.
“We blew it. They played us well but we were just not at the right pitch mentally and physically. You don't give a team like Italy a hammering and then do what we did against Wales.
“I think there was a little bit of us falling in love with ourselves and we were maybe at 90pc versus the 100pc we were at against Italy. At that level that 10% is all it takes ... it's small margins.
“The way the World Cup finished for us is a huge regret. Watching the games at home was torture, even watching the final,” said O'Gara, who added that beating the All Blacks is a major goal.
“I wouldn't say I don't like touring or don't want to tour anymore.
“That's well wide of the mark. I think there has to be a purpose, I don't want to be touring for the sake of it.
“And beating New Zealand in New Zealand gives a tour a purpose. That's certainly a gap for all of us.
“I'm enjoying it (rugby) as much as ever I was. I'm a big believer that if you immerse yourself in negativity you will become negative and if you immerse yourself in positivity you will be positive.
“Maybe it hits you one day that you've enough. I don't know. I'm 34, but I'm gone the other way to be honest.
“I want more, want to play more and want to achieve more.”
The out-half added that coaching interests him down the line but he is not ready to think about it yet and he would love to make a fourth Lions tour before he retires from playing.
“Five days is a long time in this game so you don't look too far ahead — if you're still playing international rugby you can't be thinking about anything after.
“But it (coaching) is something that would interest me.
“There'll be enough time for that after I'm done though, and I'm not there yet.
“The buzz in making a fourth Lions Tour ... that'd be something you'd stick your chest out about certainly.”