/ Rugby

Ronan O'Gara: Munster must display 'character' or risk losing fans

Updated: Friday, 15 Jan 2016 09:41 | Comments

Munster have looked a shadow of their former selves this season
Munster have looked a shadow of their former selves this season

Munster legend Ronan O’Gara believes his former side can rediscover their fighting spirit against Stade Francais on Saturday afternoon, following the battering inflicted on them by the same opposition last weekend.

Management and players alike find themselves under intense scrutiny after their season reached a new nadir with a listless 27-7 loss against 14-man Stade in Paris, a result that confirmed the province’s exit from the European Rugby Champions Cup.

 “It was hugely frustrating,” O’Gara admitted on 2FM’s Game On.

“But it’s important we don’t all become hurlers on the ditch.

“I think the players are very disappointed and I would expect a response.

“It’s last-chance saloon on Saturday.

“I think if there’s not a performance, I believe there will be a lot of people that won’t go again, but I think there will be a reaction this weekend.

“I think it was an unacceptable performance and the players will be aware of that.

“Sometimes you can question whether the players are good enough or is the quality there, and a few players underperforming - that did happen - but missing first-up tackles isn’t the Munster way.

”I think Saturday has very little to do with rugby and a game plan. Saturday is a question of character.”

“There’s no problem getting bowled over, as long as you put your body on the line, but not fronting up, that’s what frustrates supporters and management.  

“The players will be hurting this week but it’s a magnificent opportunity, going into Thomond Park, hopefully the supporters will show up, because for me I know all about what that ground means and so do the people of Munster.

“At the minute confidence is shattered, but that can come back very quickly.”

Ian Keatley is one of a number of Munster stars to have struggled this season, but O’Gara subscribes to the view that form is temporary, class is permanent, adding:” I think that he’s proven in the past that he can hack it.

“He’s just going through a very rough patch at the minute when he was needed most.

“Traditionally in Munster, you just have to please the forwards. You have to put the ball in front to them. You have to just keep the scoreboard ticking over.

“It’s a different mentality to a lot of other teams because the more you reward them, the more you get out of them. That’s traditionally been the game plan.

”I think Saturday has very little to do with rugby and a game plan. Saturday is a question of character.”

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