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'You want your captain to lead by example and there's no better man'

Peter O’Mahony will captain Ireland in Saturday’s first Test against the Wallabies.

Murray Kinsella reports from Brisbane

PETER O’MAHONY HAS captained Ireland three times before at senior level and so far his record is 100%, with two wins over Canada and one against the US.

The Cork native, who led the Lions into the first Test against New Zealand last summer, will be looking to extend his winning streak as captain on Saturday when Ireland face the Wallabies in Brisbane.

Peter O'Mahony during the anthems O'Mahony captains Ireland against the Wallabies. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Rory Best’s hamstring injury pushed O’Mahony and Johnny Sexton into co-captain status and with the out-half only making Ireland’s bench for the first Test against the Australians, the Munster man has been handed the official leadership role.

O’Mahony has captained most teams he has played for in his career, with his first experience of leading Ireland coming at the age of 23 on the 2013 tour of North America when many front-liners were involved with the Lions in Australia.

The honour of captaining the 2018 Lions against the All Blacks was followed swiftly by being dropped by Warren Gatland for the second and third Tests, but Schmidt has never been in doubt about O’Mahony’s credentials in this area.

The Cork Con clubman is also highly regarded by the Munster team-mates who have seen his leadership up close since he succeeded Doug Howlett in 2013.

“I’ve been playing under Pete as captain for a while now, he speaks well during training and gets his messages across,” said Keith Earls, who starts on the wing for Ireland on Saturday.

“The main thing is going to be his actions. From kick-off, he is going to go out and go as far as he can for as long as he can.

“Fellas get in behind him because that’s what you want your captain to do – to lead by example and there’s no better man.”

Earls is part of Ireland’s leadership group, as are fellow starters CJ Stander and Conor Murray, meaning O’Mahony will be able to lean on his Munster and Ireland team-mates when big decisions have to be made in Brisbane on Saturday.

Peter O'Mahony during training The Cork Con man has captained most teams he has played for. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

As Ireland’s out-half, Joey Carbery will also be a key decision-maker and it will be fascinating to see how he handles the responsibility of starting ahead of Sexton.

Head coach Joe Schmidt has named a settled backline around the Munster-bound playmaker, with Bundee Aki and Robbie Henshaw in midfield, Murray at nine, and Earls joined in the back three by Jacob Stockdale and fullback Rob Kearney.

Henshaw is the only other member of Saturday’s backline who didn’t start the Grand Slam-sealing win over England in March, ensuring that Carbery slots into a confident and proven backline unit.

“He has two experienced lads with Robbie and Bundee [in midfield] and, I suppose, myself and Kearns at the back. Jacob has been Jacob this year,” said Earls. “He’s been a freak even though he hasn’t much experience.

“We kind of stay tight as a unit, help Joey out as much as we can but I don’t think he’ll need too much help.

“He’s a great player and I’m looking forward to playing with him.”

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Murray Kinsella

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