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13 months after his last cap, O'Mahony not taking Ireland return for granted

The Munster captain was injured during last year’s Rugby World Cup.

THE LAST TIME we saw Peter O’Mahony in a green shirt, he was writhing in pain on the Millennium Stadium turf, the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee ruptured.

How Joe Schmidt’s side missed him a week later in the World Cup quarter-final against Argentina.

Peter O'Mahony O'Mahony has built form and fitness in recent weeks. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

O’Mahony’s 13-month road back to Test rugby has been physically arduous and deeply demanding in a mental sense, but he now finds himself on the cusp of his return.

While there was naturally disappointment that he wasn’t involved in last weekend’s history-making in Chicago, the Cork man is genuinely enthusiastic about earning his 36th cap against Canada in Dublin on Saturday [KO 7.15pm, RTÉ 2].

“Look, it was great to see the lads doing well,” says O’Mahony when asked about missing out on beating the All Blacks. “Obviously, you would love to be over there with the occasion that was in it.

It wasn’t to be for me last week and now I have an opportunity to hopefully get back in the squad and get another jersey which is something that has always been close to my heart – playing for Ireland and getting Ireland caps.

“Certainly, I would have loved to have been there but I have an opportunity hopefully this week to get stuck in.”

27-year-old O’Mahony’s return to Test rugby alongside the likes of Sean O’Brien, Keith Earls and Paddy Jackson makes this meeting with Canada all the more interesting.

There should be Ireland debuts for the likes of Luke McGrath, Garry Ringrose and John Ryan, adding a fresh element, but there are also these senior players desperate to impress Joe Schmidt again.

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Peter O'Mahony O'Mahony at Ireland training earlier this week. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

They will, of course, insist that their focus is on Canada, but the second fixture with the All Blacks in Dublin on 19 November is naturally a major goal.

“There is,” says Munster captain O’Mahony on the topic of there being another target around the corner. “Look, with the nature of me coming back over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been building and getting game time under my belt.

I did that again last weekend and now I’m lucky enough to be back in an Irish set-up and I am relishing the opportunity of possibly getting a jersey this weekend against Canada. It will be a big test for us and something that is very special every time you get named in a squad.

“And that is what I am firmly focused on this week. You can’t take all this for granted and I don’t. It’s too special to take for granted. Just to play for your country, to represent Ireland.

“Whether you are beating the All Blacks or making your debut against Canada or winning your 70th cap against them, they are all special in their own way. And certainly it is not something I take for granted.”

- This piece was updated at 9.18am to correct a typo in the first paragraph.

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Murray Kinsella

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