With less than three months to go until the start of the Wallabies’ 2019 campaign and no attack coach named, alarm bells are beginning to ring.
However, given the names that have been floating around as potential replacements for Stephen Larkham, some might argue we’d be better equipped without an attack coach at all.
The suggestions of Brian Smith and Shaun Berne are puzzling, with the former not having coached internationally since 2012 and the latter failing to make the star-studded Rebels back line click.
It is concerning to think Daryl Gibson could potentially be given the nod. The job he’s done with the Waratahs is hardly worth any merit, and Australian rugby should prepare for another season of under-performance with him at the attack helm.
While it is certain that left-field candidate Matt Giteau could in time be a successful coach, he certainly needs a few more seasons off the field and in the coach’s box before making such a drastic career switch.
So where does that leave Australian rugby in 2019? Seemingly without option.
After a disastrous international season, the chances of the Wallabies making it into the business end of the World Cup seem unlikely.
It is evident that Australia have more than enough firepower in the back line to compete with the best in the world – the Wallabies just need a coach who can harness their abilities and sculpt out their inconsistencies.
Across this ditch, there is a coach who has the ability to do just that and more. Has shown his worth as a top class coach for the last six years and has an impressive tally of 120 international caps for Ireland.
And importantly to the Wallabies, he has provided great reassurance and guidance to inconsistent fly-halves during his time in New Zealand.
The individual who will reshape the Wallabies’ attack in 2019 is Ronan O’Gara.
Since his retirement from rugby in 2013, O’Gara spent four years working primarily as a defence coach at Racing 92 in Paris.
He then made the shift to the Southern Hemisphere in 2018 to work as the Crusaders’ backs coach, where he recorded a memorable first season, helping the Canterbury outfit win their second consecutive Super Rugby title.
Throughout the 2019 season, O’Gara is continuing to show his worth, with a noticeable improvement in the Crusaders’ decision-making and consistent performances from both Richie Mo’unga and Mitch Hunt.
Over recent weeks, O’Gara has been open to acknowledge he has potential offers for a move. Speaking on the Irish rugby podcast Off the Ball, O’Gara confirmed he had received offers in Europe and hinted that he was open to the prospects of one day returning to a coaching role in France.
However, judgement day for his decision has not arrived yet, and it’s not too late for Michael Cheika to slide an offer to O’Gara to serve as the Wallabies’ attack coach for the 2019 season.
It is evident that the Irishman can provide the Wallabies with a plethora of benefits, particularly his extensive knowledge of the Northern Hemisphere and New Zealand rugby.
He has already shown his worth in the Crusaders’ set-up. He is a man capable of providing guidance to a back line filled with talent, and perhaps he is the Wallabies’ last hope to reformulate our attack, which only averaged a total of 19.2 points per game last season.
Given the defensive performances of Racing and the Crusaders under his tutelage, I’m sure he could give Nathan Grey a few points on that front as well.
So make the call, Cheika!
This is surely an opportunity that ROG wouldn’t turn down.