Sexton sings O’Gara’s praises

Date published: May 10 2016

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Leinster and Ireland fly-half Johnny Sexton has hailed Ronan O'Gara's influence in helping Racing 92 reach Saturday's Champions Cup Final.

Sexton and O'Gara weren't on the best terms when they were competing for Ireland's number 10 jersey but Sexton has subsequently played under O'Gara, who is an assistant coach at the Parisian outfit, during a two-year spell at Racing.

And he backs his former rival to continue improving as a coach and feels he could return to the Emerald Isle one day to his home province Munster, or even to work with Ireland.

“I suppose ROG’s input when I was there was limited in the first year,” Sexton told the Irish Times

“He got more involved in the second year when his French was better and he knew the coaches better. I presume he’s taken a bigger role this year.

“Obviously, we became great friends. We spent a lot of time together over there. Working day-to-day was great, just chatting to him. I think he has a real future in coaching. He is contracted there for another few years.

“Then, you could see him coming back to Munster or even Ireland. You never know. He has done it the right way. He went away. He is building into it.”

O’Gara started out as a kicking and skills coach at Racing in 2013 but has since added defence to his portfolio which Sexton believes doesn't suit his countryman.

“I think his role should be what he’s known for, his skills,” he added. 

“Obviously, as a fly-half, his expertise was in attack. If they gave him the attack, he would have more of an influence. He has been given the defence and you can see that is the most organised part of their game.

“A lot has changed this year over there, from speaking to ROG. His influence would have been key on the whole environment and how the team is run.”

Although Sexton only spent two seasons at Racing, he will be backing his former side in Saturday's final in Lyon.

“It’s always strange watching your old team,” he said.

“I was really happy for the players, the ones I played with. Obviously it’s a very different team to the one I played in… in my first year especially.

“Second year we had a few players, a better team. But I obviously missed four or five months of the season so and it didn’t work out in that season. But look, I was really happy for the guys.

“They have got some quality players in Chris Masoe, Dan Carter, Joe Rokocoko, three influential guys in the team. You could see that they were the three most influential players on the pitch at the weekend [against Leicester].”

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