Ronan O’Gara could become the first Irish player to go through the 700-point barrier in Test match rugby this afternoon. IrishRugby.ie looks at the Munster number 10’s career to date.
RONAN O’GARA (CORK CONSTITUTION/MUNSTER)
Born: San Diego, USA, March 7, 1977
Height: 5ft 11in; Weight: 13st 6lbs
Munster Caps: 104
Munster Points: 1203 (10 tries, 173 conversions, 254 penalties, 15 drop goals)
Munster Debut: v Harlequins, 1997 Ireland Caps: 68 Ireland Points: 686 (11 tries, 107 conversions, 130 penalties, 2 drop goals)
Ireland Debut: v Scotland, 2000
– Was Ireland’s first points and try scorer at Croke Park (v France). Today he joins Mike Gibson on 69 caps – equal eighth on the Ireland caps list – but is only the fifth most capped player in the current Ireland squad
– Top of the points list for the 2005 and 2006 Six Nations – totalled an Irish record 313 points at the start of this year’s Six Nations tournament. He regained top place in the Irish all-time points scoring list from David Humphreys against France in 2006
– San Diego-born, ‘Rog’ was educated at PBC and UCC in Cork. He won a Senior Cup medal wit the former and an Under-20 medal with the latter
– In 1997 he joined Cork Constitution and won his first Ireland Under-21 cap against Scotland. The following year he steered the U-21s to a Triple Crown win. He capped off the 1998/99 season by helping Con to win the AIB League Division One title
– One of the players who made their Ireland Test debuts against Scotland in 2000, immediately after the 50-18 loss at Twickenham. A 2005 Lions tourist – he was a substitute for the third Test against New Zealand
– Was instrumental in Ireland’s home wins over Australia (2002) and South Africa (2004), scoring all of their points – 18 (six penalties) against the Wallabies and 17 (a try, a drop goal and three penalties) against the Springboks
– Played in three Heineken Cup finals for Munster, scoring 13 points in the province’s 23-19 final win over Biarritz last year. Was also a Lions tourist in Australia in 2001
– He signed a four-year contract extension with Munster and Ireland in December. He is the record points scorer in the Heineken Cup with 836 points
– Is just 14 points away from becoming the first Irish player to break through the 700-point barrier in international rugby
ON THE ENGLAND GAME:
“As a half-back partnership, with Strings (Peter Stringer) back, it’s important that we get into the game a bit quicker than we did against France.
“The France game was a huge disappointment. I was unhappy with one or two things, like sliced kicks, and I think it would be better for me if we brought more intensity into our game.
“That would give me more ball on the front foot, giving us space to run at the opposition. An outside-half’s game is hugely determined by what goes on around him.
“On some days you can look very good as a result of other people’s work, other days you might look average. It’s not always down to yourself.
“There are small things that make the difference at the top level and that’s why we need to put that intensity that was missing against France into Saturday’s match.”
ON PLAYING AT CROKE PARK:
“The atmosphere at Croke Park was brilliant, just incredible. It made you proud to be Irish. There was unbelievable support in the second half (against France).
“It was going to be a good day for Ireland but it ended up being another harsh lesson for us – that you must keep playing until the final whistle.
“When I kicked that penalty (for 17-13) I think maybe a few of the boys switched off – most of the team in fact. That’s exactly the way I was thinking.
“There were just a couple of minutes left and I thought: ‘let’s get the ball and kill the clock’, but then they scored.”
ON GOAL-KICKING AT CROKE PARK:
“I wasn’t aware people were saying it might be a problem at Croke Park. It’s funny the way they ask the GAA fellas how they kick.
“There’s no comparison between the different styles, it’s a whole different technique. Croke Park is different in the sense that it’s a new ground for us, but it’s a similar stadium to those you operate in all around the world.”
ON IMPROVING AGAINST ENGLAND:
“If we are to beat England, there are a number of things we must do better.
“This game, for instance, is not about the occasion, it’s about our performance, I think that’s hugely important. Obviously we must execute from minute one, as opposed to minute 20.”