O'Gara poised for Ireland return?
March 6, 2013
Could Ronan O'Gara be back in the green of Ireland on Saturday? © Getty Images
Ronan O'Gara could be back in the Test mix for Ireland's game against France with his team currently sweating on the fitness of Paddy Jackson.
O'Gara was dropped by Ireland at the weekend with Ian Madigan included in his place for the match against France in Dublin. Many perceived this to spell the end of the 36-year-old's Test career but with Jackson struggling with a hamstring injury, there is every chance that the Munster No.10 will be back in the green of Ireland this weekend.
Declan Kidney opted against naming a fly-half when he unveiled his team on Tuesday with that confirmation expected to come on Thursday. If Jackson is ruled out then Madigan looks likely to start with O'Gara on the bench and Kidney insists he has no reservations over calling the veteran back in after dropping him at the weekend.
"Absolutely not would I mind asking Ronan back, I'd be delighted. There was no fun whatsoever in leaving him out," Kidney said "I'd only be too delighted. It wouldn't be an awkward conversation from my side, absolutely not.
"I'm sure he'd love to play for Ireland, he's always loved playing for Ireland and he'd continue to do that. Ronan will have been disappointed. You don't give the type of service that Ronan has given and not be disappointed.
"It's the role of the coach to make these calls and I felt Ian had been going well and deserved his chance. But it's unfair to put Ronan in that spotlight. Everybody is centrally contracted, so everyone is available to play for Ireland at any stage. We have 20 guys on standby. We'd call someone in when need be. Everyone is alerted."
But while O'Gara's place in the squad for Saturday's match is far from certain, prop Cian Healy will start at loose-head. He was originally suspended for the match but he successfully appealed the decision and he has been cleared to play.
The suspension came as a result of his stamp on Dan Cole during their round two match against England and Healy has revealed that he was the subject of hate mail following the incident.
"I checked my phone after the game and there were a lot of heavy messages on it," Healy told the Telegraph. "I also got a pretty violent letter arrive into our camp. It was hand written and sent on to the IRFU, I've no idea where it came from, Ireland or England.
"I read the first line and handed it to Mick Kearney our manager and let him dispose of it. I wouldn't want to repeat what it said, it was a rough enough letter. It takes a certain type of person to write a hate letter, those people don't really matter to me."
And Healy also claimed that he did not realise the severity of the incident until he re-watched the match. "It was bad and that isn't really how I play. I went to do something and I just didn't do it correctly and that wasn't very professional," he said. "An English leg came round over the ball and I ran around to push it off and that happened. I deserved to get sanctioned for it and it is something I will move on from.
"I would back myself to be a hard, physical player and a nuisance to play against but when people are saying 'dirty' about me, I was taken aback and it took me down a few pegs. I still haven't spoken to Dan about it but it would be nice to talk with him about it in the summer."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
On Saturday, New Zealand face the USA in a match that has been 40 years in the making. Tom Hamilton finds the atmosphere building in Chicago
Most modern rugby players will not know the name Ray Williams but they should be eternally grateful to him, writes John Taylor
With the All Blacks playing the USA Eagles this weekend, Craig Dowd says rugby is ready to make a professional breakthrough Stateside
"He had a death stare so you'd know when you were wrong." George Kruis talks about his mentor Borthwick, fly-fishing and his England aspirations