It's a sad way for Ronan's Ireland career to end but he can be proud of his feats
Ronan O'Gara always had full confidence in his abilities, though some viewed it as arrogance. Photograph: Inpho
When I heard on Sunday that Ronan O’Gara had been dropped from the Ireland squad, I was as surprised as everybody else. It was just a sad way for it all to end for him considering what he’d done for Irish rugby over the years.
The more I thought about it though, the more I realised that sadness wasn’t the right emotion here. This is one of the great careers of Irish sport, regardless of what way it finishes up. When I spoke to him later on, I told him that it doesn’t matter if this is how it ends. What matters is what went before.
I don’t want this to sound like an obituary for him. Actually, maybe I do – it’ll annoy him no end. Rog was team-mate of mine for over a decade and has been a friend for as long as I can remember. We sat beside each other in the dressing room and roomed together for years.
We fought like cats and dogs purely out of the way our personalities are but we never held grudges. In the beginning, we would be told to kiss and make up if we had a row at training. But in later years, if he started giving out to me I’d just run away laughing. And the same went vice-versa.
This is a blow to him for sure and he’ll be gutted all this week. It’s a shame actually that Munster don’t have a game this weekend because I’d say he’d love nothing more than to be getting back on the horse.
What always stood out for me about him over the years was his strength of character and how he reacted to adversity. I was someone who always had doubts about myself and who was always worried about this or that going wrong. I never had to look further than Ronan for reassurance.
He was always trying to get me to believe in myself a bit more. He was a winner and he wouldn’t allow me mope or get down on myself if I’d had a setback. Not everybody was able to carry themselves with the huge confidence he had but he was always of the opinion that to get the maximum out of himself, he had to believe in himself.
That rubbed off on everyone, including me. I always admired that ability he had to bounce back, whether it was from a big game where he’d missed a few kicks or where the opposition had kept running down his channel.
Ronan was never one for moping and I can’t see him doing that this week. For one thing, he has four kids running about the house so he won’t have time. But anyway, it wouldn’t be in his nature. He was always the one who brought the most energy to training and team meetings after a defeat.
Putting it right
If we lost a game on a Saturday, he’d be ringing around fellas on the Sunday telling them we’d get stuck in first thing Monday morning and we’d find ways of putting it right. I think he took a kind of pleasure in trying to find a way to fix things for the next game. I love that fire in him. Everybody knows that he never hesitated in speaking up but he knew as well that if he was going to make a fuss about something, he had to be the one to lead the way to back it up.