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Ronan O'Gra at Wednesday's Munster media conference
Morgan Treacy
Business As Usual For O'Gara
1 January 2010, 11:27 am
By Pat Geraghty
Whatever the perception there is among Munster supporters about the size of the task faced on Saturday Ronan O'Gara is expecting a massive challenge in the Stadio Communale di Monigo.
Speaking to journalists in the Maryborough House Hotel yesterday after training in nearby Musgrave Park, when asked if this game represented the proverbial banana skin his response was immediate. "Yes. It's a realistic threat of losing. They're not a token Italian team." he said. They've proved that by beating Perpignan. And for people who still might have thought that was a one-off, they were unlucky not to beat Northampton at home as well. "

"So the talk is this is their cup final and they want to do us on home soil and they'll be doing everything in their power to do that."

"So yes, we're expecting a massive challenge but its they same story for us, trying to concentrate on ourselves."

There was also the question of perhaps complacency among supporters about this penultimate Pool game "If they look at all the games and they're real rugby fans they'll understand this is going to be a tough game."

"I think the great thing from our point of view is learning from Montauban last year. People talked about five points then and we were lucky, very lucky, to get four points. So I think if you go out looking for five points you usually end up getting no points."

"We're going over to beat Treviso and however that's best achieved, whether it be with penalties or whether we score tries, I don't have any of those answers but I do know our preparation will be like any other week of the year."

O'Gara is always great value at occasions like these because of his honesty and forthrightness and when he was asked to explain the divergence in form displayed between Munster against Treviso in round two and Munster against Perpignan, his response was an almost startled. "Explain to who?"

"Look, " he continued, "that's the beauty of sport isn't it? You don't know what's around the corner in life or in sport or in anything. As professionals you prepare to the best of your ability. Then you've a game plan. Then you've to trust your instincts. Then you've to go out and play and then you've to change things. But these are spilt second decisions and the margins are very small at this level and if you go to international level they're smaller again."

"At Heineken Cup level its small margins you're talking about. You look at how Perpignan scored their tries and people will say we conceded them too easily but they were soft scores. That gives a team seven, fourteen, twenty one points and that's a lot of scores to get back to be competing against them."

"They were freakish enough moments and they don't happen that often as we've seen in other games That's what happened in that game against Treviso. We actually played very well but maybe at times we were a small bit off the line. Maybe we should have pushed up and closed. We didn't close behind for a kick through, seven points and that gives an away team huge momentum playing in Thomond Park."

"You've to go through each of those tries on their own and there'll be a reason for each of them. You can't generalise any of these. You look at them, see exactly what has happened and you'll see there'll be a reason. An individual involved in one each occasion If he's a small bit off or misses a jump by a second or half a second then the payback in a situation like that is tries against you."

"You have to address that. And the pleasing thing for us was the game away to Perpignan when they didn't really look like scoring a try against us. That was a big statement from us away from home."

In terms of his own form O'Gara expressed his satisfaction at 'where I am now'. His early season kicking form wasn't up to his own high standards leading to questions being asked of his overall performance. "I've been playing well this season but haven't been kicking well at times this season. But the perception and the person on the street believes that you're not playing well if you're not kicking well."

"That's the perception and that's where you trust other people's judgement and that's where Tony (McGahan) has been very good. The people who know their rugby generally separate the two of them. But it's very important for me to have the whole package too and that's the reason why I've been living the dream for ten years."

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