O'Gara not finished yet, insists Kearney
Leinster's Ian Madigan during Ireland training at Carton House this afternoon. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho
Rugby:Irish management insisted today Ronan O’Gara’s international career is not over and the Munster outhalf could yet feature before the end of this years Six Nations Chamnpionship.
O’Gara, the most capped player in Irish rugby, was left out of Declan Kidney’s squad for this week’s match against France in Dublin, with Ulster''s Paddy Jackson and Leinster's Ian Madigan preferred as back-up to injury doubt Jonny Sexton.
While commentators were bringing a close to his distinguished international career, Irish manager Mick Kearney said O’Gara is definitely not finished.
“There are three outhalves in squad at the moment,” he said at Carton House. “Basically it’s a selection call. Declan did speak to Ronan yesterday and I think in fairness to Declan he wanted to give him advance warning as to what the thinking was going to be. Declan wanted to pay him due respect and an early warning was the right thing to do. I don’t know fully story but obviously Ronan was disappointed as you’d expect him to be.”
When it was put to the manager that it marked the end of the outhalf’s career, Kearney was adamant that was not how they were viewing it.
“No absolutely not,” he said. “I don’t think it marks the end of his international career. I think he could even possibly be involved again for the Italy game. I don’t think it’s the end. Leaving him out of the squad for France we had certainly no intention of writing off his international career. We now have to wait and see.”
Assistant coach Les Kiss agreed.
“Ronan continues to provide value whenever he’s around the camp. I have every faith that he will put his hand up and say ‘I’m still part of this picture’,” he said f the 36-year-old. “That’s how I see him responding at this stage. Without a doubt he’ll be disappointed, but nothing’s finished yet and he could be back in the picture pretty quickly.”
Sexton is at best a 50/50 call for the France game following a grade two hamstring injury sustained against England on March 10th that would usually take six weeks, while concerns remain over lock Donnacha Ryan, who has been suffering from back spasms and sustained a bruised A/C joint (shoulder) against Scotland.
“Jonny has only been running in straight lines," said Kearney. "The plan is that tomorrow he will run as close as possible at full speed and take it on from then. Tomorrow will be a very important day. It’s very difficult to make a call at this stage. He hasn’t been ruled out, but at best he’s 50-50. He’s done no kicking yet.”
Winger Graig Gilroy, who injured his groin last time out, remains in trouble, too, while Mike McCarthy trained this week and will be available to play subject to having no adverse reaction.