Ronan O’Gara believes in ruthless Ireland, United to play Chelsea in FA Cup
Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team
Non-League Barnet earned a 3-3 draw with Championship side Brentford in the fourth round of the FA Cup. Photograph: John Walton/PA
We are another day closer to the start of the 2019 Six Nations, meaning it’s nearly time for Ronan O’Gara - now an assistant coach at the Crusaders - to board the long flight from Christchurch to Dublin. And O’Gara, who will be working as a television pundit during the tournament, returns to Ireland confident his former side can defend their Championship crown, he said: “I think they’re fixed better than ever. One statistic jumped out at me, and that was that the Irish teams have won 17, drawn one and lost one of 19 games against English clubs in the last two seasons in the Heineken Cup. That’s a staggering statistic. . . Sometimes we presume that now is the norm. It isn’t the norm.” However O’Gara is wary of the threat posed by England in Dublin on Saturday - and especially from another outhalf, Owen Farrell: “I think he’s a great player and a great competitor. I could see them winning a World Cup with Farrell at 10. That’s how strongly I regard him as a player.” Meanwhile in his column this morning Gerry Thornley has warned that the Six Nations must not lose out in a new ‘World League’. This follows a meeting in Los Angeles yesterday which outlined proposals to bring the Autumn Internationals, summer tours, the Six Nations and the Rugby Championship together into one annual league. “The Six Nations is a stand-alone success story because it is, well, a stand-alone tournament,” he writes.
Ahead of Friday night’s opener between France and Wales in Paris, John O’Sullivan has picked out six players to keep an eye on throughout the tournament - including Ireland’s John Cooney and England’s mighty winger Joe Cokanasiga. Meanwhile England are the second team to be analysed in our daily Six Nations profiles - you can read that HERE.