Rob Kearney believes the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) could bypass provincial jobs and push Ronan O’Gara into the Test hotseat in the future.
Current Ireland head coach Andy Farrell’s tenure after 2023 isn’t set in stone, with the main focus being a successful campaign at the Rugby World Cup.
And after leading La Rochelle to Champions Cup glory at the expense of Kearney’s old team Leinster, the former full-back thinks he is ready for a top job.
Early days as a head coach
“He’s done amazing things, you look at the places he’s been to – Paris, Crusaders, La Rochelle. He’s learning an enormous amount.
“He’s still early on in his days as a head coach. You’d expect Andy Farrell to be there for a few more years and after that will be the time to move to an international role (for O’Gara).
“I don’t think you’d bring him back to a provincial role with the hope of then moving him up, just leave him be to learn in a different country, how environments and cultures operate because he’s going to know the Irish culture inside out.
“That would be my preference on it.”
However, another former international great, Stephen Ferris, has warned the IRFU that France could also be interested in O’Gara’s services in the future.
“I was chatting to a friend and we ended up wondering could ROG end up coaching France in a few years time?” said the Ulster legend.
“Him and Shaun Edwards, how good a combination would that be?
“He’s plying his trade there, his French is half-decent, he has a good relationship with a lot of the key players going forward.
“I know it was all talk about (O’Gara) potentially taking the England job a few months ago and he was open to it of course, working with some of the best players in the world.
“The way ROG has gone about his coaching career to date, it wouldn’t surprise me if he went to France, England, Munster or Ireland. He’s willing to give anything a go.”