Ronan O'Gara comments on Rory Scannell are completely bang on
"Usually, when you are at your lowest ebb, something breaks for you."
Ronan O'Gara never had too many fears about making it into the Irish squad once he made his Test debut, all the way up to his final Six Nations campaign in 2013. The Munster legend proved himself so many times over his rugby career that it would have sparked outrage had he not been called into national camps.
There are many Munster fans, and supporters from other pockets in the country, that would tell you they are none too happy Rory Scannell has not been involved in recent Ireland squads. It would be a stretch to liken their grumblings to outrage, but Scannell is doing all he can to merit a closer look in 2019.
During a recent episode of Baz & Andrew's House of Rugby, Ronan O'Gara spoke effusively about Scannell's playing and kicking abilities, and about his temperament.
O'Gara has been back and forth between Ireland and France during the Super Rugby off-season, and he has been keeping a close eye on Munster's progress in the Guinness PRO14 and Champions Cup.
As a man that nailed many a clutch kick in his career, the Crusaders assistant coach had nothing but respect for Scannell's added-time penalty kick against Glasgow Warriors.
"I was delighted for him," said O'Gara, "because that's sport. Usually, when you are at your lowest ebb, something breaks for you."
"For Rory not to be considered probably not in the top 50 players in the country [in Ireland's November squad] must have been a blow for him. I think he has been consistent for Munster.
"He could be lacking a little, tiny oomph when compared to some of the other centres. But in terms of consistency and doing the basics he has been going quite well. But quite well, for Ireland, isn't good enough, obviously, and that's a reflection of how everyone else is playing and the standards this group has set for themselves."
Scannell won three Test caps on Ireland's 2017 to America and Japan but has yet to add to them, and found the likes of Munster teammates Chris Farrell and Sam Arnold jumping ahead of him in the national set-up.
That late penalty against Warriors was followed up by a rare start in the 13 jersey and a 10-point haul (try, penalty and conversion) against Zebre before starting in the PRO14 win over Edinburgh and scoring a crucial try in the Champions Cup win over Castres.
To O'Gara, Scannell stepping up for Munster and putting personal disappointment (over Ireland) to one side should be "a lesson" to other players.
"Sometimes, if you are consistent in your preparation, if you are honest and if you go hard at your career, it will break for you. He probably thought he's finished and that's it for him, but then he becomes the headline act.
"It's great for him, because I watched him kicking in the warm-up for the Gloucester game. He kind of stabbed one or two kicks in the warm-up and then he found why in his own head and corrected it on the run, and you could see the ball flight was then different.
"You look at the kick against Glasgow and he doesn't give it an extra, he just backs the strike. The follow-through is to here [hip height] but he stays straight and tall in his kick and gets through his kick, and it's a great kick. It was never missing. It's not like a wonky mis-hit or anything.
"It's a great kick and it is a great tribute for him - to say, 'Okay, it's the 81st minute. I'll step up and I'll kick this'."
For a Munster legend to speak so glowingly of the versatile Scannell will be a further boost in a season that could yet be the making of him.
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