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Dublin: 16 °C Thursday 23 May, 2019
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O'Gara and O'Connell want to team up in dream coaching duo

The Racing 92 coach said he is not yet ready for a return to Munster.

GIVEN THAT THEY possess two of the best rugby brains Ireland has ever seen on the pitch, it always seemed highly probable that Ronan O’Gara and Paul O’Connell would move into coaching.

Such an effective combination on the pitch, the prospect of the pair of Irish rugby legends teaming up as coaches is a thrilling one.

Ronan O'Gara and Paul O'Connell at the end of the match O'Gara and O'Connell were legends with Munster and Ireland. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

O’Gara has now admitted that it is certainly their plan and with O’Connell having retired from playing due to a severe hamstring injury, the probable scenario of a ROG and POC dream team has moved a step closer.

O’Connell was linked with Munster’s director of rugby role in recent weeks, and it’s understood that a conversation did take place between the former second row and the province in relation to that position.

O’Connell, however, appreciates the need for him to learn an altogether new craft and declined to put his CV in the mix. The Limerick man has visited Conor O’Shea’s Harlequins and Bernard Jackman’s Grenoble in recent times for stints of hands-on experience.

Speaking in Paris, where he is an assistant coach with Racing 92, O’Gara stated his belief that O’Connell is right to be cautious about his first step into the coaching world and indicated that the pair plan to work together.

“They’d be crying out for Paulie [at Munster], but then if Paulie didn’t get the results, they’d be showing him the door,” said O’Gara. “We’re all aware of that.

“I talk to Paulie; Paulie will be an exceptionally good coach and it’s no secret of the two of ours that we want to team up. It’s about getting the right opportunity.”

O’Gara has little doubt that O’Connell will be signed by a club soon, and stressed again that the pair of them need to put more concrete plans for working together in place, even if that may not be at Racing.

Ronan O'Gara and Paul O'Connell celebrate O'Gara and O'Connell led Munster to their greatest days. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“No, but depending on what role he is in there’s always something potentially,” said O’Gara of the possibility of O’Connell joining the Top 14 club.

“Any fella who has his head screwed on will be looking to snap him up. It’s a case of trying to get a plan together between us and start competing as a unit, because that’s what we both want to do.

“He’s still just re-adjusting and you’ve got to appreciate that too, because your head is all over the place when you come out of rugby.”

O’Gara recently extended his contract with Racing until 2019, but his playing history with Munster will mean he is always linked with a return home.

Indeed, it seems extremely likely that himself and O’Connell will team up and lead the southern province at some point in the future.

Did O’Gara have a chance to return to Munster before he penned this new contract with Racing last month?

“No, I wouldn’t have a clue,” answered O’Gara. “No, I would have my head firmly fixed on trying to achieve something here. I need to learn basically; this is only my third year as a coach. I’m nowhere near ready. I understand a lot of it, but I have no idea how to coach the attack game fluently yet.

Paul O'Connell and Ronan O'Gara Two exceptional rugby brains. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“When you’re standing in front of Munster or Irish players, they spot a spoofer straight away. I’m still at the spoofing stage, I need to get it all on autopilot. I don’t have that at the minute, I just think it’s better for me too because you see things differently when you get out anyway.

“It’s a great league and it’s hugely challenging. There will definitely be time to come home, but it’s nowhere near. It wouldn’t be the right thing to do, to come home after three years. There’s no way you’d be developed.”

As O’Gara’s conversations with his friend O’Connell continue, one imagines that they will be stressing the need for the former second row to get onto the coaching ladder in an ideal position and begin to learn the craft, as O’Gara is at Racing.

Looking further into the future, you can bet that this pair of winners are planning to create history.

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Murray Kinsella

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