Click here for photos of Ireland’s kicking practice at Lansdowne Road on Friday.
Pictured above: Ireland out-half Ronan O’Gara takes a shot at the North Terrace goal as the squad’s kickers get through their last 6 Nations practice at the old Lansdowne Road.
O’Gara lines up another shot under the watching eye of Ireland kicking coach Mark Tainton. It has been quite a week so far for young mister O’Gara – he turned 29 on Tuesday and for the occasion, had his runners ‘destroyed’ by Brian O’Driscoll, forcing O’Gara to wear dress shoes with his tracksuit for a good part of the week!
On a more memorable note, Saturday will mark the 40th occasion that O’Gara has started a Test match together with his old school mate Peter Stringer as his half-back partner.
In an interview in the Irish Times, Stringer said of the duo’s relationship: “He (Rog) just seems to be like the only player I’ve ever played with! But it’s good, like. It does give you that added confidence knowing where the chat is coming from and knowing the type of ball he wants, because it does take a while to adjust to out players in that position (at out-half).
“Even at training, if some other guys have to step to first receiver, they’re not used to a certain type of pass or something, they might just want it standing or a couple of yards in front or whatever. They’re the fine things that can make a difference, when they have to be spot on for his transfer to the next guy, because it’s just a split second with defences these days. It’s good and it does give that added confidence knowing he’s there.”
A view of Ronan O’Gara with the West Stand in the background.
The Scottish Test will be O’Gara’s 59th in an Irish jersey. His record as Ireland’s all-time top points scorer currently stands at 579.
The sun shines down on O’Gara as he kicks towards the North Terrace. Saturday will be the Corkman’s 7th Test against Scotland since he made his debut, alongside Stringer, against the Scots in 2000. The Irish number 10 is the top scorer in the 2006 RBS 6 Nations after the opening three weekends. Coincidentally, O’Gara has scored 16 points in each of Ireland’s three games so far – against Italy, France and Wales – for a 48 point haul.
**All photos by Billy Stickland of Inpho Photography**