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Highlights on Off The Ball

Ronan O'Gara | How Joey Carbery can help Johnny Sexton's career

Ronan O'Gara joined us to discuss Ireland's opening Six Nations match against Wales and the troub...


Ronan O'Gara | How Joey Carbery can help Johnny Sexton's career

Ronan O'Gara joined us to discuss Ireland's opening Six Nations match against Wales and the troubling impact of COVID-19 on athletes.

O'Gara's La Rochelle side have around two dozen positive cases from within the camp, and he spoke of the troubling effect on players whose fitness is among the best in the world.

"People are hit hard. Everyone is very different and there are no common trends emerging from a rugby point of view.

"Some guys tested positive over two weeks ago but they wouldn't be reintegrated into the group there.

"The common consensus seems to be that they find the first, even, light jog extremely difficult, but quickly get it back between sessions two, three, four and five.

"But an awful lot of people are struggling with it. The guys who have tested positive, their feedback has been that it is not a nice thing to get."

Ronan O'Gara on Six Nations

Ireland, Carbery, Sexton, Six Nations

As sporting administrators get to grips with the self-same pandemic, attention turns to a Six Nations that is fortunately taking place.

ROG believes that the elongation of Ireland's captain might lie not with Johnny Sexton himself, but another at ten.

O'Gara referenced the different amount of caps as a measure of where a player is 'at'.

"I think that 20-50 [cap] bracket is very different to 0-5, which is a blur. 5-10 you're thinking 'I can do this,' and 10-20 you're thinking that you either kick on or get pushed aside.

"It is very obvious to me that the key man in all of this is Joey Carbery because he changes the potential for Johnny's role.

"Without Joey, there is a huge responsibility and onus on Johnny to start games and do everything.  If Joey was there, Johnny could pay the backup role and have as much impact in the 30 minutes than he could with the 50 or 60.

"It also tactically changes the situation as well, but if Joey finds his stride then there is the capacity to bring in Ross or Harry Byrne, or another player to get up to speed with Johnny in the background.

"Talking about it, and you are that player who has such a burning desire for your country... Johnny isn't going to walk away."

Scrum-half options

Six Nations

O'Gara believes that the situation at scrum-half is not quite so simple as the coaching staff seeing Craig Casey as the best of a packed Irish field.

He believes that there may a tactical trick up Andy Farrell's sleeve.

"My read on it was that it is Murray to start, Gibson-Park to add impact and Craig Casey to get a feel of what international rugby camp is like and the step up from Heineken Cup. I could be wrong.

"I wouldn't be shy of playing him, he is a little bit like Hugo Keenan in that I think the opportunities he has been given, he has excelled in.

"His last ten minutes in Munster-Leinster didn't do him any favours, but I would say that was adhering to the game plan in 'this is what we do, but not what we do when we're three points down.'"

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Rog Rugby Sexton