10 Dec, 12:23
Ireland's John Lacey will referee his first ever RBS 6 Nations match in February, while Alain Rolland is also included in the Elite Panel in what is his last season.
The race for the 2005 Lions Test fly-half spot hots up at the Rotorua International stadium tomorrow morning (8.10am Irish time), as O'Gara - ironically on the same number of international caps (52) as number 10 favourite Jonny Wilkinson of England - steps up his bid for a place against the All-Blacks.
Both the Corkman and Wilkinson have recently come back from lengthy spells on the sidelines, too.
O'Gara, having played his "best game in three years" in clocking up 17 points in Munster's Celtic Cup final defeat of Llanelli, his first outing since Ireland's final Six Nations tie against Wales due to a knee injury, is ready for the challenge.
"The most important thing for me is to challenge for a Test place to the best of my ability and that will increase the performances of Jonny, Charlie (Hodgson) and Stephen (Jones)," said the 28-year-old.
"Against the Bay of Plenty, I've got to set my stall out - play as I know I can - because if it goes wrong, you won't get another go, it's as simple as that."
Think of O'Gara and the Lions, and your mind is immediately cast back to Saturday, June 23, 2001 when New South Wales Waratah Duncan McRae lashed out at the Irish international, punching him eleven times, earning himself a red card and a subsequent six-week suspension.
Four years on, and now with his reputation increased as a talisman for both Munster and Ireland, O'Gara wants his second Lions tour to be memorable for all the right reasons.
"A Lions tour does improve your game unrecognisably - being around the best players brings the best out of you. Jonny was, and still is, one of them.
"What he has achieved is incredible - he's the standard-bearer - but now I have five years of experience behind me and the so-called stars of the world game don't faze me," added O'Gara, the 2005 Six Nations top points scorer.
Referring to the number 10 Test berth, he said: "I don't think anything worth having is easy to get, but until I'm told otherwise, I see everything to play for. I believe the management when they say everyone is on a clean slate."