O’Gara Ready For The Challenge
29th March 2007 By Munster Rugby
On Friday evening Ronan O’Gara will become just the sixth player to captain Munster in the Heineken Cup when he dons the captain’s armband for their quarter final joust with Llanelli Scarlets at Stradey Park (7.30).
The Cork man celebrated his 30th birthday during the recent RBS Six Nations championship and ended that tournament as the undisputed top number 10. On Friday he will win his 125th Munster cap with 65 of those earned in Heineken Cup competition.
“It is a great honour to captain this side. It’s what anyone would aspire to, having made it into the squad. I’m looking forward to it obviously, but I will be quite happy to step to one side and let Paul resume when he’s over his injury. Hopefully that will be for the semi final if everything goes well for us on Friday.
“Mind you that’s a big ‘if’, given the opposition we face and the venue we play in. Scarlets are a quality side and we certainly won’t be taking anything for granted. How could we ? Their record in the pool stages, six from six, that performance out in Toulouse, says it all about them. They’re like us in many ways, great tradition in this competition. Great, passionate, support. They’re full of ambition and in front of their own, at Stradey Park ? It’s going to be awesome.
“It’s a huge challenge, it really is when you think about it.”
O’Gara was cheered by the news that John Kelly and Mick O’Driscoll were passed fit to play, “Two class players”, he says quietly, respectfully, ” There’s been a lot of talk in the media about the injuries to Paul (O’Connell) and Shaun (Payne). Any side would be delighted to have them in their side. I have the height of respect for that pair. But Friday’s game is about the fellas who are playing not about those who are not. And to be perfectly honest, I have no fears going in with the lads who will be around me.
“I believe that if we can show the same commitment and courage that the boys showed in the second half against Ulster last Friday night then we will be in there with a fighting chance. It’ll be as tough as it gets. No doubt about that but hopefully we’ll give a good account of ourselves.”