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'An exciting next step in my coaching career and one my family and I are ready to make'

Ronan O’Gara has been confirmed as the Crusaders backs coach.

RONAN O’GARA SAYS his decision to leave Racing 92 and accept an offer to become part of the Crusaders backroom staff is ‘an exciting step’ in his career as he climbs the coaching ladder.

Ronan O'Gara O'Gara was part of Joe Schmidt's coaching staff for Ireland's summer tour of USA and Japan. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

The former Ireland and Munster out-half was today granted an early release from his contract with Racing to take up the opportunity to move to New Zealand, where he will become the Crusaders backs coach.

O’Gara was under contract with the French club until 2019 and thanked Racing for giving him his first opportunity in coaching and the understanding and co-operation they have shown in recent weeks.

The 40-year-old, who spent four years in Paris, will join Scott Roberston’s coaching staff for the 2018 Super Rugby season as the Crusaders look to defend the title they won in August.

“New Zealand sets the bar in world rugby, and Super Rugby is recognised as one of the toughest international rugby tournaments,” O’Gara said.

“So to coach in New Zealand — for the current Super Rugby champions — is an enticing prospect for any coach.  I cannot wait to join Scott Robertson, Brad Mooar and Jason Ryan in the BNZ Crusaders coaching group and to work with the outstanding group of players we have.

“I have a lot of respect for Scott Robertson, having played against him in two All Blacks v Ireland tests in 2002, and then following his coaching success since. I am sure I can learn a lot from him and the other coaches, management and players at the Crusaders and I hope that I can also make a worthy contribution to the group by bringing my own personal experience and flavour to the team.

“I am immensely grateful to the Racing 92 club for their understanding and cooperation in allowing me an early release to take up this Crusaders role. It is not easy to walk away from the club that gave me my first break in coaching and I will miss all of those I have been lucky enough to work with there. This is an exciting next step in my coaching career though and one that my family and I are ready to make. It is clear that there is a special and successful culture at the Crusaders, which I feel honoured to be invited to be a part of.”

Jessica and Ronan O'Gara with their children JJ, Molly, Max Rua and Zac Jessica and Ronan O'Gara with their children.. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Robertson, who was recently in Ireland for the Barbarians’ clash with Tonga at Thomond Park, added: “The skills and international experience that Ronan brings is the perfect complement to our current coaching group. We are lucky to have the continuity of Brad and Jason in their roles, while Ronan will bring his fresh perspective and new ideas, which is always welcomed.

“With our coaching group and playing squad now complete, I can’t wait to get this 2018 season underway.”

O’Gara will begin his role with the Christchurch-based franchise from 1 January 2018, with the new Super Rugby season getting underway in late February.

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