Ronan O’Gara Is Strongly Opposed To Starting A Certain Young Irish Centre Against England
16 years ago Ronan O’Gara was a seasoned Munster veteran when he made his Ireland debut in 2000.
He may have been only 22 but like many players from his generation he had served his apprenticeship through his province and club. O’Gara even went on to play in his first Heineken Cup final that year, a disappointing loss to Northampton.
Besides a certain Ulster centre in the name of Stuart McCloskey, Ringrose’s name has popped up several times to spice up Ireland’s midfield, with even Ireland legend Brian O’Driscoll calling for the Leinster centre to get his shot. O’Gara however has warned Ireland not to fast track him to the very top in his Irish Examiner column.
“When the the likes of Ringrose comes through, there is a duty of care to the lad to ensure he is an international for a decade — not the three or four games it might take to destroy him in the wrong circumstances.
“I’d like to think I follow a lot of rugby, and I’ve seen him play perhaps six competitive games. Two of them were PRO 12 games. International standard is a level or two above Champions Cup, so the notion he is ready to face England next week is fanciful at best, irresponsible at worst.
“There are no greenhorns playing international rugby. There are many playing domestic or PRO 12 League, and there are a few even playing Champions Cup, but there are none at international level among the world’s top eight countries. Rugby against the Dragons is light years away from rugby against Wales. It’s like a different sport.”
O’Gara feels Ireland were lacking leadership against France more that anything and reckons a better option for Schmidt will be to reintegrate some of his injured senior stars rather than turning to youth.
“Stuart McCloskey is physically more robust than Ringrose and has nice hands, but surely Simon Zebo and Keith Earls will come straight back into the team against England.”