Ronan O’Gara believes Joe Schmidt’s ability to get his players to believe they are capable of world-class performances is the key to Ireland’s success in recent years.
O’Gara – a panellist on Virgin Media, the Guinness Six Nations host broadcaster in Ireland – gave his view on Ireland’s remarkable 2018 Grand Slam as part of a special programme on Sunday night.
Ireland overcame France in their opening match of the 2018 Championship thanks to a thrilling drop-goal deep into added time slotted by O’Gara’s one-time rival for the No.10 jersey Jonathan Sexton.
O’Gara commented: “The fatigue levels at 80 minutes in a Test match, heart going 180 to 200 beats a minute…it’s a fair achievement.
“A fair achievement? That could be the understatement of the season!”
Ireland went on to beat Italy, Wales and Scotland at home before overcoming defending champions England in a tour-de-force finale at Twickenham to claim only the third Slam in their history.
O’Gara’s career ended just as the Schmidt era was beginning but Ireland’s record points scorer in Championship history (557) is hugely impressed with what his country have achieved.
He added: “What the IRFU and the boys are doing now would make you very proud to be Irish.”
Schmidt – Ireland’s head coach since November 2013 – has delivered three titles, including last year’s Slam, and O’Gara has pinpointed the New Zealander’s capacity to instil confidence in his troops as pivotal.
“We haven’t seen anything like him – that’s the great thing about it,” said O’Gara.
“He’s come in, he knows what world class is and he realises that he has a group of players who are world class. And then he convinces his players of that.”
You can watch every Guinness Six Nations match on Virgin Media – and get all your Ireland fixtures and TV details here
Watch Ireland’s Six Nations 2018 Journey on the Virgin Media Player here