RONAN O’Gara has revealed that rising Innishannon rugby star Jack Crowley has turned down the chance to join him at La Rochelle in the French Top 14.
Irish rugby great O’Gara is head coach at La Rochelle and writing in his Irish Examiner column he explained how he wanted to sign former Bandon RFC and Bandon Grammar star Crowley – but the West Cork man decided not to take up the offer.
Instead, Crowley (21) will stay with Munster, much to O’Gara’s disappointment. He feels the gifted outhalf, who impressed with his displays for Ireland in last year’s U20 Six Nations, may turn out to be the best Munster No 10 of the lot.
‘He has already turned heads with his displays from the boot and with ball in hand for the Ireland U20s. Crowley may be fourth in line at the moment, but things move quickly when you least expect them,’ O’Gara wrote.
‘Patience is a virtue in these situations and Jack is happy to bide his time and make his mark with Munster. I know all this because he has turned down the chance to sign for La Rochelle, with whom I am familiar.
‘Am I disappointed? Bloody right I am. This boy is a talent.’
Crowley made his Munster senior debut earlier this month in a PRO14 loss away to Ulster and he has spoken before about how O’Gara was his idol and boyhood hero when he was growing up, while O’Gara is also a fan of the Innishannon man. Ahead of the 2019 World Cup, Crowley got to pick O’Gara’s brains when they met up – and both have referenced that chat since then.
‘He was only out of Leaving Cert, but I liked him. He was confident and positive without being arrogant. I liked his judgement values,’ O’Gara wrote. ‘I have watched him develop quickly over the last year and a half and he has a really good future ahead of him if he continues to make good judgements and stays injury-free.
‘He got minutes for Munster in Belfast recently, kicked some points, and got a taste for it. There’s so much more to come.Which is why La Rochelle put together a proposition to bring him to France. Clearly his progress at Munster is somewhat retarded by the afore-mentioned 10s, and we would like to think there was Top 14 game-time for him here next season.
‘The fitness of Joey Carbery is the key lever for who does what ahead of the next World Cup, but Munster aren’t stupid; they must know what they have on their hands.’
O’Gara added: ‘Fair play to him for his single-mindedness. I thought La Rochelle had a good shot at Jack and I think the move would have been a good one for both parties. He would love it here, the rugby, the life, and he would prosper. But he has now decided to stick with the team he loves and grew up supporting. He is backing himself to make it at Munster. He is doing whatever he can to get what he wants.’