Munster’s Ronan O’Gara is relishing going head to head with Leinster rival Jonny Sexton for the Ireland No.10 jersey for the Six Nations – claiming he proved his doubters wrong with his form at the World Cup.
Technically speaking, O’Gara is Ireland’s incumbent fly-half having started the World Cup quarter-final defeat to Wales in Wellington and has been in typically dominant form in the RaboDirect PRO12 for Munster this term.
In the build-up to the World Cup, O’Gara’s grip on the green jersey had waned with Sexton set to assume the position for years to come – but the Munsterman hit back and it was he who Declan Kidney turned to in New Zealand.
O’Gara is under no illusions that Sexton has also impressed since returning to domestic duties with Leinster this season, but the 34-year-old is convinced he still has plenty to offer.
"I'm relaxed after the World Cup because of what had happened there,” O’Gara told the Irish Independent. “Essentially, I'd lost my place and I was doing everything possible to demonstrate that I had something to offer this team.
"That's what matters. That my team knows that ROG can still do the business for us, whether he's starting or coming off the bench.
"It was important for me to lay down a marker at the World Cup and that's the ultimate, so I think that gave me confidence.
"I realise exactly where I am at the minute, 34 going on 35. There's a good No 10 there, there's two good No 10s there.
"So let's have a crack off this, let's see who gets picked. If I have the value to start the game, or come on in the game, that is hugely important to me.
"At this stage, I can say I've a good record for Ireland. I enjoy playing for Ireland and it means so much to me.
"I just want to ensure that we put ourselves in the best possible position to win a Grand Slam."