ROG shoots his mouth off Epsiode #473

After Ireland’s win against Australia in the World Cup, Ronan O’Gara came out to meet the media, and said he’d be retiring after the tournament.  Of course, he had no intention of doing so.  It was a brazen attempt to draw attention to himself at a time when he was out of the starting team – as Fangio put it, ‘Forget about the team, let’s talk about me.’
Well, he’s at it again.  The latest interview with Hugh Farrelly of Dolphin Charlie George of the Echo Terry Reilly of the Examiner has all the hallmarks of ROG doing what ROG does – his bidding in public.  He’s now gone for a complete U-turn from his World Cup antics – this time he’s saying he’s going to play for ever and ever and ever.  Or at least until he’s 38.  Even if Deccie did choose not to select Rog, you’re left with the impression that if he’ll just turn up anyway.
He’s pretty chuffed with his own form is ROG, and why not?  After all, he’s had a fine season with Munster, driving them to the knockout stages with some late-late dramatics for show.  He clearly still has it.  But truth be told, his Six Nations didn’t really catch fire, and in his cameo appearances he didn’t do a huge amount of note.  Against Italy his only contributions were to miss touch with a penalty and throw a pass to nobody.  Besides, anyone who saw the physical shifts demanded of Jonny Sexton and Owen Farrell will quickly realise that the test arena is no place for 38-year old fly-halves with defensive shortcomings.

Anyway, go on:

“I concentrated on making the most of the opportunities I got, be that five minutes, 20 minutes or 25 minutes and I always felt that I was maybe five minutes away from getting the start. I was coming in with 20 minutes to go and doing well. In my mind the time had to come when I would be given the chance to win matches with 80 minutes.”

“It was gut-wrenching. I especially thought I would start the Wales game given I was the incumbent”

Never mind that the game he was incumbent for didn’t actually go especially well. This is the latest in a line of such interviews by O’Gara.  Mid-Six Nations he appeared to undermine the meritocracy of team selection by suggesting that Sexton was only selected to give him confidence and build for the future.  At this stage, ROG’s constant courting of the media spotlight is becoming tiresome.
It’s a pretty unedifying spectacle to see Ireland’s record cap-holder and the greatest fly-half of the professional era having to resort to his media chums to exhort the coach to select him. When you see ageing sports stars raging against the dying of the light, it can begin to smack of desperation – witness Brett Favre’s embarrassing denouement in Minnesota, or Michael Schumacher trundling around the track in his Mercedes, insisting his talent can drag it to the front of the grid. And Farmer Farrelly’s lapdog impression is also quite undignified.

“Even with the torment that I have experienced in the last few months, I know that there is more to my international story.”

No other player, in or out of the team, feels the need to give these sort of ‘Pick me! Pick me!’ interviews.  Imagine if Sexton described his ‘torment’ at not making the starting team, or if Rob Kearney spent an interview talking about how he was playing ‘above international level’.  They would be savaged, and rightly so.  If ROG is playing as well as he says he is, why not just let his boots do the talking?  We all know he can continue to make a contribution – just get on with it.

In a week when two great Irish internationals were forced to retire due to injury, it’s increasingly a luxury to be able to retire on your own terms, as Quinny pointed out on Wednesday.  It’s something O’Gara would do well to bear in mind.