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"I don't get spooked by titles" - Ronan O'Gara's taking his La Rochelle players out of their comfort zone

Raf Diallo
Raf Diallo

08:20 30 Jul 2019


Ronan O'Gara's got an early taste of life as head coach at La Rochelle this month.

The Ireland legend has been putting his squad through their paces since mid-July. But one thing he did with them was take them down to a military camp.

"It was good in the fact that fellas were put out in positions where they're uncomfortable and vulnerable," he told Off The Ball of the benefits.

"You don't sometimes get that on high ropes for example. So you're quite outside your comfort zone and people will react differently. It's trying to create scenarios of high pressure which potentially may benefit you late into a game. But sometimes it's difficult to see the correlation. If you get 1% out of it, it does make a difference I feel."

Top 14 Differences

ROG also added that he senses a "good vibe" in the group as they look to tackle the Top 14 and Europe next season. As he admitted, the Top 14 poses a unique challenge.

"I think it's understanding the physicality of it," he said.

"You see when Leinster play Toulouse, they're too fast for them. But the Top 14 is refereed a little bit differently as well so you have to get to grips with that. There are areas like if you can get a really good driving maul, I think that's really important. A big one over here is no scrum, no win. But it's no line-out, no win as well. So there aren't that many differences but I think what is happening with the rules is that a certain amount of French players have to be in your squad. So you have to get that right. You have to get the appreciation that it's the French Championship, we're in France, it's their league and you need to respect that. I think once we show respect to the natives, then you can make it a really happy camp."

That latter aspect in regards to the playing staff is also high on his list of priorities.

"My biggest challenge and my biggest opportunity and something I'm looking forward to is to really connect with the French players and try to make them French internationals," he said.

While he's aiming to brush up on his French, O'Gara's also taking the challenge of a first head coaching role in his stride.

"I don't get spooked by titles either. I think the important thing is you work with really good players and you value what they contribute," he said.

"So in that regard, this is a small coaching team. Let's see how it goes but I'm not nervous or anything like that."

You can watch the full chat with Ronan O'Gara above via our YouTube channel.

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