Johnny Sexton hopes Ronan O’Gara temporary coaching role for the summer can lead to a permanent return to Ireland for his old team-mate.
Joe Schmidt has confirmed the Munster man will join his staff for the tour of Japan and the USA.
O’Gara along with Leinster’s Girvan Dempsey and Musnter’s Felix Jones will get experience of the coaching set-up with Ireland for the duration of the tour.
Sexton is delighted to see his old sparring partner play a part:
“It’s great that he’s going to get a chance to go and get involved with the Irish players and give us some of the knowledge that he picked up over the years.
“He’ll get a chance to learn as well from coaches of Joe’s calibre and Simon (Easterby), obviously Andy Farrell will be with the Lions so he won’t get to pick his brains.
“It’ll be good for ROG as well, he’s doing good things in Paris.”
The Leinster out-half duked it out with O’Gara for the number 10 jersey for many years. Their fierce rivalry cooled, and then turned in to a warm friendship in later years.
O'Gara is currently working with Racing 92, his contract with the French Top 14 side is reported to run until 2019.
Sexton believes O’Gara could take the top job at Munster, but warned if they won’t act fast another province could try and secure his services:
“I’m sure at some stage he’ll come back into the system here, in an ideal world he’ll take the Munster job and he’s probably going to bide his time for that.
“One of the other provinces could snap him up sooner and he’d do a great job.
Schmidt explained the appointment in an interview with RTÉ Radio:
“I've had a lot of conversations with Ronan over the years really and especially with him being in France and my experiences over there.
“We've conversed often on what's happening over there and a little bit about what's happening here.
“He's indicated that he be keen to get into the environment and just have a bit of a look. So we are going to put him to work and he is going to do some skills coach work for us.
“As is Girvan Dempsey who is I think growing in confidence all the time in his role in Leinster and the same with Felix Jones, who I think has made a really positive impression under Rassie Erasmus in Munster.
“I think they are three outstanding young men who have fantastic potential to be coaching in this country.
“We want to try to get the best out of them on tour albeit wanting to give them all an opportunity so they are kind of overlapping with each other for the best part of 8-10 days the first one and then 7-9 days for the other two.
“I am really looking forward to working with them. I have obviously worked with Girv before and I have worked with Felix in a coach/player relationship and he was superb to coach as a player and I have known Ronan for a long time so I think they will add a bit of a spark to the coaching group.”