The only player to amass 1000 points in Heineken Cup history. Record points holder in the 6 nations. Ireland and Munster's highest ever points scorer. 2 Heineken cups, A Grand Slam, Magners League and Celtic Cup winner.
But is he really the best fly-half the northern hemisphere has to offer?, is he rightfully the favourite to start against South Africa?, and if he is, what does that say about the North's standard of fly-halves?
As an Ireland supporter, despite his Irish Sportsman of the Year award in 2004 I'm not sold one bit on Ronan O'Gara as even this country's current first choice fly-half.
The reasons are simple: There are too many glaring faults in his game.
Bad enough they be exposed in an Ireland shirt, worse again that they be exposed in a Lions Shirt.
I've said it before and I'll say it again -The man cannot tackle. Is that a cardboard cutout of O Gara being run over? After further replays and slow motion analysis it seems obvious that it is indeed the real O'Gara being steamrollered...This is an all to frequent occurrence in a typical Ronan O Gara performance.
Of course, all is forgiven if his kicks go over, right?
Wrong. A team is only as strong as its weakest link. And World Champions South Africa have too many options with which to attack the Lions to have a liability on the field like O'Gara running around like a delirious schoolgirl in heat.
O'Gara's other glaring fault is when he is in possession. Or should I say for the 2 seconds he is in possession before he throws the ball into outer space or kicks the ball into oblivion.
What is O'Gara trying to do sometimes? Pundits never really pick up on it. Maybe because O'Gara does it so often anyway theres no point flagging it anymore.
In football its called 'trying the Hollywood ball'. That is the ambition and scope of what is being attempted is fit only for a cinema screen-not a real live action professional rugby game against heavyweights like Leinster, France and the occasion of the upcoming tests against South Africa.
It would be nice if someone could tell O'Gara that the chances of a grubber or kick to the wing are fairly low even with the best of vision and intentions as the bounce of the ball is not very predictable in rugby owing to the nature of the ball.
This is a hundred times truer when, like yesterday with a 3 v 2 situation on the right wing against the Sharks there was just no need to kick. Aside from his decision making, this gives rise to the question whether O'Gara actually feels comfortable running with the ball.
If he is unwilling afraid to go into contact with the ball, as a profesional rugby player, representing the best the Britain and Ireland have to offer, this is hugely dissappointing. Not to mention, it also makes him very predictable to the opponent.
If O'Gara plays and gives away possession so recklessly against a team like the Springboks, people will finally know exactly how annoying I found it when he did it against New Zealand for Ireland. But it will be a test too late.
O'Gara has many things in his locker. He's very consistent in things he is good at. he has proven experience and has toured with the Lions before. He is certainly up there with the best fly-halves in Northern rugby but for the love of Pete, James Hook must start against South Africa.
Whether it should be O'Gara or Stephen Jones on standby, I leave you the reader to decide.
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