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O'Mahony primed for the 'biggest' game of his career against All Blacks
The Munster man will play in his first World Cup knock-out game on Saturday.

THE ALL BLACKS call him “a world-class operator” but Peter O’Mahony seemingly still has to convince many Irish supporters and pundits of his quality after 63 caps.

The Munster man is one of Ireland’s vice-captains but he is one of those most regularly discussed as being vulnerable within Joe Schmidt’s first-choice Ireland team.

peter-omahony Dan Sheridan / INPHO O'Mahony will play in his first World Cup knock-out game on Saturday. Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

To be fair, Tadhg Beirne and Rhys Ruddock have put some pressure on O’Mahony in the number six shirt, but it’s worth remembering how the 30-year-old played on his last outing against the All Blacks in November 2018.

O’Mahony was man of the match on that occasion and earned respect from the Kiwis, who are wary of him ahead of Saturday’s World Cup quarter-final in Tokyo.

“He has an impact in many ways across the game,” says All Blacks back row Matt Todd.

“Great in the lineout, in defence and with the ball, so when you’ve got that broad range of skills, you have an impact in so many ways and he’s certainly a key man for them and he can impact the game across the board.”

For his part, O’Mahony is looking forward to what he feels is the biggest game of his career.

The Cork man’s simmering aggression and leadership could be key for Ireland as they look to make history by reaching their first-ever semi-final.

“It’s very special,” says O’Mahony. “Certainly in my professional career, it’s the biggest week.

“I’ve probably said that a few times but they seem to get bigger and bigger and they certainly don’t get any bigger than this.

“These are the weeks you’ve trained and worked so hard for to be involved in weeks like this.

peter-omahony Dan Sheridan / INPHO O'Mahony at Ireland training in Tokyo. Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

“We’ve been lucky, we’ve given ourselves a shot in a quarter-final. We’re playing arguably the best team in the world for a long time now but look, we’ve given ourselves a shot and we’ll try and enjoy the week.”

Saturday will be O’Mahony’s first World Cup knock-out game, having missed the 2015 quarter-final against Argentina after rupturing his ACL in the final pool game against France.

Ireland can take some confidence from their two wins in the last three games against the All Blacks but O’Mahony warns that a quarter-final in Japan is a different prospect.

“It’s so different now and it’s a long time ago and you certainly take confidence from those performances but on the flip side, it’s a different animal.

“A World Cup is different and they’re a different squad now, as we are, and it’s just our own little cup battle for both teams. 

“And as I said already, these are the weeks that you work so hard for and  you certainly look back on them, whatever way the result goes.”

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