Munster will give Ronan O’Gara time to consider contract extension
Rob Penney pays tribute to captain Doug Howlett as he steps down
Ronan O’Gara: still considering a one-year extension to his Munster contract.
Although Munster are not putting pressure on Ronan O’Gara to accept a contract extension, the expectation remains that O’Gara played his final game in the Heineken Cup semi-final defeat to Clermont three weeks ago pending confirmation of his retirement.
Munster chief executive Garrett Fitzgerald confirmed that a one-year deal remains on offer to O’Gara and admitted it will be hard enough to replace captain Doug Howlett without also losing their all-time top scorer as well, while Munster coach Rob Penney said Howlett would be very hard to replace and paid tribute to his fellow Kiwi, who he made captain when he arrived in Munster last summer.
“There is only one Doug Howlett. He has been a terrific member of the Munster team for a long time now, he has been inspirational. You just have to talk to the boys who have been here all their lives and they treat Dougie as a Munster local. He has had that much influence,” said Penney.
Fitzgerald, who ruled out a coaching role for Howlett, said they have not set a deadline for O’Gara to accept a new one-year contract but he said he is hopeful the outhalf will stay on for another season.
He stressed they were not pressing him for a decision and the likelihood remains that O’Gara will instead move on to pursue his stated ambition of going into coaching next season.
“We’ve offered Ronan an extension, a one-year extension to his contract, and he’s just asked for time to consider it. I think he’s well entitled to that given the stage he’s at and what he’s committed to the province. He deserves that opportunity,” said Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald said the province has extended the contract of forwards’ coach Anthony Foley by one year.