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Approaching his first pre-season as head coach at La Rochelle, as much as anything Ronan O’Gara wants his new club to be synonymous with work-rate.
This, he believes, is the basic ingredient of any successful team in any sport, and applies to Joe Schmidt’s World Cup-bound Irish squad.
“That’s a starting point. We haven’t even talked about structure, skill set, mindset, all these things are hugely fascinating. So you need to be really good at a lot of them.
“You look at the Irish team going to the World Cup and they are strong in all those areas. Probably the area that will be most pertinent will be the mental game because of our past history in World Cups and just the challenge of either New Zealand or South Africa,” said O’Gara of Ireland’s putative quarter-final opponents.
“That game itself becomes Final One, then if you progress it’s Final Two, then if you win it you’ve Final Three.”
From Ireland’s point of view it really helps having Joe Schmidt there because he knows New Zealand inside out
That said, Ireland’s record points’ scorer and second most capped player of all time doesn’t believe any mental baggage will afflict the current Irish squad.
“I don’t think so. In ’11 there was a small bit of underestimating Wales in the quarter-final. After going four out of four in the pool stages there was a huge missed opportunity for our group of players.
“I don’t think we reacted well to winning four games in a row. We didn’t reset and get the mental side right for the games against Wales in Wellington. It cost us badly,” O’Gara said of that quarter-final defeat.
“In 2003 the mindset wasn’t where it needs to be for a world competition and ’07 was just a perfect example in meaning so much that you ‘overcare’ and you ‘overtrain’ essentially. You try an
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