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'He was cold to me' - Ronan O'Gara reveals Steven Hansen's suspicions over having an Irish Crusaders coach

NZ Herald

Former Ireland star and Crusaders assistant coach Ronan O’Gara has revealed his frosty relationship with All Blacks coach Steve Hansen.

O’Gara joined the Crusaders as an assistant coach in 2018, spending two seasons working under Scott Robertson before being appointed as head coach of French side La Rochelle.

The partnership was extremely successful – the Crusaders winning the Super Rugby title in both of O’Gara’s seasons with the team – but the former Irish first-five explained that not everything was so smooth in his relationship with Hansen.

“He was cold to me,” O’Gara told Irish website Off The Ball. “He was cold to me in my time [with the Crusaders].”

With very few overseas coaches having high-profile roles in New Zealand Super Rugby sides, O’Gara indicated that Hansen wasn’t completely sold on having a top Irish coach amongst one of New Zealand’s best rugby set-ups.

“I think maybe the fact that it was never really done before and Steve Hansen has been around for a long time,” O’Gara said.

“I kind of made up with him a year or two later, but I think at the start he struggled to get his head around what I was doing there.

“Particularly with the World Cup coming up, particularly with Ireland going so well.

“I went in and got a good reaction out of the Crusaders players and a lot of them are All Blacks. I’d say it was strange at the start that I was coming in.”

There was some speculation amongst fans during the week of the All Blacks’ World Cup quarter-final against Ireland that Ireland coach Joe Schmidt could call on O’Gara to provide information from his time working with many of the All Blacks at the Crusaders, but O’Gara said that he didn’t hear from either side.

And, he says that there were no hard feelings with Hansen.

“I shook hands with him and made it clear that I have ambitions of my own to try and coach at the highest level.”

That could include with the All Blacks, as the NZ Herald understands that Robertson has considering coaxing O’Gara back from France to form part of his All Blacks coaching team as several top candidates put their hand up to replace Hansen.

This article first appeared on the New Zealand Herald and is republished with permission here. 

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'He was cold to me' - Ronan O'Gara reveals Steven Hansen's suspicions over having an Irish Crusaders coach