Belfast Telegraph

Ronan O'Gara has eyes on head coach job after turning down Munster


Head hunting: Ronan O’Gara aims to be the man in charge
Head hunting: Ronan O’Gara aims to be the man in charge

By Cian Tracey

Ronan O'Gara has ruled out a return to Munster next season after admitting that he has held talks with his former club.

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Munster are in the market for a new attack coach to replace the outgoing Felix Jones, as well as a forwards/scrum coach, but O'Gara was quick to pour cold water on any chance of a return to his home province as he revealed that he wants his next move to be as a head coach.

O'Gara, who has been offered a deal to stay on for a third season with the Crusaders in New Zealand, has been strongly linked with La Rochelle and, although reports in France suggested that it was to become backs coach, he clarified that it was in fact to become head coach.

"No, that's inaccurate," said O'Gara.

"Obviously Jono Gibbes is there and he is a director of rugby, but he wants someone to run the rugby programme and that's what I am speaking to him about.

"That (head coach) would be the next position I would be looking at.

"There's (other) options at home in Ireland. I have spoken to Munster, but there is no serious conversation in terms of a coaching position because I don't really want it to go that route at the minute.

"If I am good enough then I can get a job at home on my terms.

"There's some really tough decisions to make. So hopefully in the next 10 or 14 days there will be a decision. But nothing is done yet."

Meanwhile, a watching brief for the biggest weekend of the club season was not what any of the Munster players wanted, but seeing Saracens batter Leinster into submission must have enhanced the belief that they can catch their arch-rivals cold this weekend.

Despite matters off the pitch dominating the agenda in Munster, the squad have had two weeks to prepare for Saturday's Guinness PRO14 semi-final as they look to rid themselves of that below par performance against Benetton that got them there in the first place.

As much as Leinster are used to quickly turning the page, it's difficult not to imagine them being somewhat mentally and physically fatigued. For that reason alone, Munster must be ready to take advantage.

It's doubtful that Johann van Graan would have taken much, if any, comfort from analysing the manner of Saracens' win and neither the Munster head coach nor the club captain are naive enough to think that they can simply replicate that kind of power game.

"Yeah, look, they're a good side," Peter O'Mahony acknowledged.

"They were certainly two of the best teams in Europe without a shadow of a doubt, duly made the final and I don't think we can copy what they do.

"We don't have quite the same players but look, there's certain areas we can certainly have a look at it.

"We'll have a game-plan we need to implement this weekend, and when we do that we're very hard to beat, regardless of who you're talking about.

"The intensity and the physicality was brutal. I thought Saracens probably played their best game of the year.

"I didn't think Leinster played badly. 10-0 up, they were flying, but they took their chances and to score 20 unanswered points against Leinster isn't done, by anyone."

Munster must beware the wounded beast, but they have enough on their own plate to get too sidetracked by the inevitable backlash at the RDS Arena.

Leinster have sufficient squad depth to freshen things up and Leo Cullen has proved that he is not shy in doing so.

Munster, on the other hand, are still searching for that complete 80-minute performance, according to O'Mahony.

"I think we've put parts of our game together at different times of the season, I don't think we've put them all together at once," the skipper continued.

"It's a difficult thing to do as well, particularly when you're playing against teams as good as Leinster.

"We haven't quite done it. We've got close at times but it's going to take that little bit more this week."

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