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O'Gara confirmed as Crusaders backs coach

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Wednesday, November 22, 2017    Getty Images

O'Gara has been granted an early release from his position with French Top 14 side Racing 92 where he has been working with former All Blacks and Crusaders first five-eighths Dan Carter.

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He played 128 Tests for Ireland and two for the Lions, during the tours of 2001, 2005 and 2009, and is sixth on the list of most capped players in world rugby behind Richie McCaw (148), Brian O'Driscoll (141), George Gregan (139), Gethin Jenkins (134) and Keven Mealamu (132).

He is also the Ireland record holder for most points scored in Test rugby with 1083 points, which places him fourth on the world list behind Dan Carter (1598), Jonny Wilkinson (1246) and Neil Jenkins (1090).

With Ireland he shared four Triple Crowns in Six Nations rugby from 2000-13 while with Munster he was involved in two Heineken Cup successes.

O'Gara said in a statement released by the Crusaders that he saw the chance to join the side's coaching group as 'an incredible opportunity'.

"New Zealand sets the bar in world rugby, and Super Rugby is recognised as one of the toughest international rugby tournaments. So to coach in New Zealand, for the Super Rugby champions, is an enticing prospect for any coach. I cannot wait to join Scott Robertson, Brad Mooar and Jason Ryan in the Crusaders coaching group and work with the outstanding players we have," he said.
O'Gara said he respected what Robertson had achieved in his coaching career. He played against him twice in Tests in 2002 and had followed his subsequent coaching achievements.

"I am sure I can learn a lot from him and the other coaches, management and players at the Crusaders and I hope that I can also make a worthy contribution to the group by bringing my own experience and flavour to the team," he said.

He appreciated Racing 92's support in giving him an early release.

"It is not easy to walk away from the club that gave me my first break in coaching and I will miss all of those I have been lucky enough to work with there," he said.

Robertson said O'Gara's skills and experience would be the perfect complement for the Crusaders coaching group.

"Ronan will bring his fresh perspective and new ideas which is always welcomed. With our coaching group and playing squad now complete, I can't wait to get this 2018 season underway," he said.

Crusaders' chief executive Hamish Riach said O'Gara's appointment was exciting.

"He was a brilliant player and has gone on to prove himself as an outstanding coach with Racing 92 in Paris. The international experience and exceptional skillset that Ronan can bring to this team is fantastic. We cannot wait to have him over here working with us and contributing to our success in the season ahead," he said.