Six Nations 2021: Former Ireland fly-half Ronan O'Gara backs Billy Burns after Wales error

Ireland Wales
Ireland are still without a win in Cardiff since 2013

Former Ireland fly-half Ronan O'Gara says Billy Burns must show "character" by quickly moving on from his mistake against Wales.

Ulster's Burns kicked the ball dead when aiming for touch to end Ireland's hopes of a dramatic last-gasp victory in their opening Six Nations game.

"It's all well and good when everything is rosy," said O'Gara on Monday.

"He's had a setback, everyone who plays top-level sport is going to have a setback."

"He can feel sorry for himself last night but chin up, get back to work and get working on it straight away. We all make errors, there's no robots playing the game. He went for it and his skillset let him down."

Munster and Ireland legend O'Gara won 130 caps at Test level before retiring in 2013.

The former British and Irish Lion, currently the head coach of Top 14 side La Rochelle, watched from France as his country fell to a narrow defeat in Cardiff with Burns' final act condemning Ireland to their fifth consecutive loss at the Principality Stadium.

"Of course I do (have sympathy for Burns) because I understand the subject very, very well," O'Gara said.

"I'm not too sure how many opportunities in the past Billy Burns has had in that position, I wouldn't say he's had that same scenario.

"Nowadays the five-metre line is the goal-line for a kicker. That probably sounds a bit strange to people, but the corner flag is of no relevance.

"You cannot get a line-out nearer than the five-metre line, so why would even think of kicking for the corner flag?

"It's just what he learns from it, that's the most important thing.

"It'll be more disappointing if in the next scenario for Ulster in a Champions Cup game or for Ireland in the future, if he does the same, then people will get frustrated and annoyed at him."

Ireland 'not far away' from big improvements

Ireland's campaign got off to the worst possible start after just 13 minutes when Peter O'Mahony became their first Irishman to be sent-off in the Six Nations.

The visitors fought hard to take a 13-6 lead into the break but ultimately could not hold on to what would have been a precious win.

"Only people involved with sport at high level, especially rugby, understand what losing a guy after 13 minutes to a red card is," O'Gara said.

"It's different I think in soccer where you can change a lot of things in terms of 11 against 10.

"On the rugby pitch there's obviously a lot more space, taking the guy out of the defensive line or him not being the extra link in the wide channel in attack, it affects you.

"In fairness to Ireland they rolled up their sleeves and went after it and that'll be what I think they'll be doubly annoyed with because 6-0 down they had done a brilliant job playing with width, with variation."

Ronan O'gara
O'Gara is head coach of French Top 14 outfit La Rochelle

Despite the result there were a number of positive moments from Ireland, who are still looking to establish their identity under head coach Andy Farrell.

They enjoyed multiple successes in disrupting Wales' line-out while quick ball was readily available through the contest.

"I think we're better at changing the point of attack and you could see definitely new additions with the width we had in the game," O'Gara said.

"In the inside channels we were probably planting a little bit on passing as opposed to we can probably have that second more and attack a little bit more.

"That will even make it harder for the defence on the outside, but it's an area where I think the coaches will be happy with because they will see if we keep at this we're not far away from it."

Ireland return to action on Sunday in Dublin where they face France, who romped to an opening weekend win over Italy.

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