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'It was a major weakness' | O'Gara tormented himself before games

Eoin Harte
Eoin Harte

10:58 21 Feb 2020

Ronan O'Gara has said that his individualistic attitude towards playing rugby was a major weakness that tormented him but that he needed it all the same.

The former Munster and Ireland fly-half was not one to take things easy going into a match and said that the build-up to matches was often “horrendous” for him.

The La Rochelle head coach was speaking to Friday’s OTB AM and went into detail about the mentality he had when approaching games.

“It was a major weakness of mine in the fact that I struggled in terms of the individual sports outlook I had with kicking.

“I could completely understand why people would be like that because they had a game that they could enjoy. I beat myself up over the fact that I put the responsibility [on myself] - and I liked that too.

“But I don’t want this to be a negative. I kind of warped my mind into thinking that the 14 others that played don’t really have a direct influence in that regard.

“But for me, I had to be getting 10 to 20 points every game. It’s my responsibility,” O’Gara said.

The former fly-half revealed that Neil Jenkins, the goal kicker for Wales and the British and Irish Lions for much of his career, had a similar approach.

The Welshman explained to Ronan O'Gara, while the pair were in Australia with the Lions in 2001, that it was simply a goal kicker's job to put the ball over the bar and not to expect any praise for doing so.

“I remember Neil Jenkins told me a great quote in ’01. ‘People don’t thank the postman. So they don’t thank Neil Jenkins because Neil Jenkins is expected to kick the ball over the bar the same as the postman when they get letters.’

“It changed my mindset on goal kicking. He used to talk about himself in the third person. ‘When Neilo does the business no one thanks him because Neilo is expected to kick the ball over the bar.’

“That’s what his job was and that’s exactly what my job was,” O’Gara commented.

'It tormented me but I wouldn't change it'

While O’Gara put himself through great stress in his pursuit of goal-kicking perfection, he felt it was a necessary evil for his career to progress.

“The reality was that if you wanted to be looked upon as one of the best you had to be hitting really high percentages as a kicker. That tormented me but I wouldn’t change it.

“I loved it and I needed that. But at the start, it was, ‘Wow’. Those journeys - you compare that to the 30 minutes you get with your teammates after a victory compared to the emotions going to a game - it was horrendous,” Ronan O'Gara said.

You can watch back Ronan O'Gara talking rugby in full here

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