Ronan O’Gara – “Under Joe Schmidt We’ve Been Watching A Hugely Ruthless Operation In Full Swing”
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Ronan O’Gara might be far away in New Zealand these days with the Crusaders, but he still keeps a close eye on everything to do with Irish Rugby as he gets set to return to punditry when the Six Nations kicks-off this weekend.
The former Munster and Ireland outhalf will be on hand with Virgin Media for Ireland’s openers against England and Scotland, before jetting straight back to New Zealand as the Crusaders look to defend their Super Rugby title.
And O’Gara has been hugely impressed with what Ireland have done under Joe Schmidt, particularly since the last World Cup. He has called Ireland’s current set-up a “ruthless operation in full swing” that he doesn’t think will stop any time soon.
“I think they’re fixed better than ever. I’m not in there, which is probably good sometimes because you can give a more honest appraisal of it, but one statistic jumped out at me, and that was that the Irish teams have won 17, drawn one and lost one of 19 games against English clubs in the last two seasons in the Heineken Cup. That’s a staggering statistic.” O’Gara told the Irish Times.
“Sometimes we presume that now is the norm. It isn’t the norm. Under Joe Schmidt, especially since the last World Cup, we’ve been watching a hugely ruthless operation in full swing. I don’t know when it will stop, but I don’t think it will stop any time soon. The quality of player is really good. For the first time in the history of the Six Nations we’re going to be saying ‘Jeez, he didn’t make the 23!’”
And while O’Gara rates England, especially with Farrell at 10, he doesn’t think much has changed since Ireland “dismantled” England at Twickenham last year.
“With Farrell at 10, they’re a stronger team,” O’Gara added
The two Vunipolas and Itoje would add to any pack. They’ve always had good packs, but I keep going back to Twickenham,”
“I’ve never seen an Irish dismantling of an English team so comfortably in a game with so much at stake, and what has changed since then?”
Will the operation roll on this weekend? Don’t bet against it.