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From 'no-show' to Joe show: Schmidt capable of bringing instant success, says O'Gara

Whether Ireland can maintain a consistent level of performance will be the key, says the former out-half.

Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

RONAN O’GARA BELIEVES that the impact of Joe Schmidt can propel Ireland to being serious Six Nations title challengers 12 months after narrowly avoiding the wooden spoon.

This Sunday, Schmidt will take charge of Ireland for the fourth time, but for the first time in a competitive  fixture with more than just IRB ranking points available.

Under normal circumstances, O’Gara admits an inclination to think a long-term rebuilding process would be needed after the fifth-place finish in 2013, but added that Schmidt is capable of turning teams around instantly.

“The fascinating thing about Joe Schmidt is that I don’t think you need to be in contention first,” O’Gara said yesterday.

“He is capable of going from last year’s no-show to potential champions this year like he did with Leinster.

“With me, I would have always thought you need to put layer upon layer – building blocks to knock on the door like we did with Munster. It’s an exciting time, because the players are lucky enough to have a fascinating two months ahead of them. It’s a great time to be an Irish rugby player.”

Now based in France as an assistant coach with Racing Metro, O’Gara reports with some bemusement that the team whose only wins in the past 12 months have come against Wales, USA, Canada and Samoa are being made competition favourites in that country. Speaking as a brand ambassador for Viviscal, he added:

“What’s been missing for the past few years has been years has been consistency. That’s the challenge for this Six Nations, but I see no reason why it can’t be there.

“I think the players are there. the coaching ticket is there and I think the support from the public will be there – that’s crucial.

“I think when you have those three ingredients, everything is possible.”

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