Three simple words effectively secured Ronan O'Gara his dream job in New Zealand
In January 2018, Ronan O'Gara and his family will be settling into life in the South Island of New Zealand.
The Munster and Ireland legend is to depart Racing 92, in Paris, after four and a half seasons to take up his new position with reigning Super Rugby champions, the Crusaders.
Kiwis are almost more excited than Irish rugby fans over the capture of O'Gara and he is sure to wholeheartedly tackle his new role, and tell the local media exactly what's on his mind. If he goes to form, he should be a big success in the Land of the Long White Cloud.
Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson was absolutely delighted to have secured O'Gara's services. There had been glowing recommendations from the likes of Doug Howlett, Dan Carter and Jason Holland, but Robertson told Stuff about his conversation with the Cork native, in a Dublin coffee shop, that sealed the deal. Robertson revealed:
"The biggest thing that sold it for me was when I asked, 'Why would you like to be a Crusader?'
"He told me it was, 'The holy grail'."
Mike Prendergast is a good friend, and former Munster teammate, of O'Gara and has been speaking with him since the switch from France to New Zealand was announced. The Oyonnax backs coach joined The Hard Yards [from 1:20 below] and offered a great insight as to why O'Gara is in such demand.
"Coaching is a marathon, it's not a sprint," says Prendergast.
"Ronan came in, effectively, as a skills and kicking coach and he worked his way up to being a defence coach. Now he's going to the Crusaders as a backs, and attack, coach. His steps of progression are very impressive and it is only going one way, that's as head coach."
Prendergast and Oyonnax have a couple of players on their books that have previously played under O'Gara and, he says, they 'speak so highly of him as a coach and as a person'.
The Limerick native, who previously coached under Bernard Jackman at Grenoble, says he met Roberston at Lyon Airport after the O'Gara deal had been done. He comments:
"Scott was obviously in Dublin and was heading back [home]. He was saying that they are all so excited, in New Zealand, to get him over. That's a nice thing to be coming from the head coach so I think it will be great all round."
As we noted when O'Gara was first linked with the job, his long-term plan is to get back to coach at Munster but he is first determined to experience coaching and working with different teams and within different cultures.
Rugby is cherished so deeply in the Canterbury region and hard-working rugby men are revered. O'Gara should fit right in.
He already has a Bouclier de Brennus [Top 14 title] to his name and, with this Crusaders side, he may not have to wait too long for a Super Rugby win to follow that up.