Billy Stickland/INPHO Peter O'Mahony's current deal expires next summer.

'There are people who aren't working or have been laid off. It's sh**ty place to be'

Peter O’Mahony says rugby players remain in a fortunate position despite contract talks being on hold.

PETER O’MAHONY SAYS professional Irish rugby players appreciate how fortunate a position they’re in despite over 50% of them being out of contract at the end of the current season.

The IRFU and its provinces have yet to enter contract discussions with players as the union manages financial uncertainty brought about by the Covid-19 crisis. 

That means more than half of all professionals in Ireland, including O’Mahony and several other high-profile players, are not contracted beyond June 2021.

The IRFU hopes to get the re-contracting process underway in the New Year but there is obvious uncertainty for many Irish players at present. However, Ireland flanker and Munster captain O’Mahony says he and his team-mates only have to look around the country to remember how privileged a position they are in.

“In the grand scheme of things, we’re very lucky to be in the position that we’re in, to be back playing and back doing what we love,” said O’Mahony yesterday.

“There are plenty of people out there who are either not working or who have been laid off. It’s sh**ty place to be in.

“I don’t think we’re too worried about it. Obviously, it’s not ideal – there are people who have families and stuff that need a bit of security down the line but that will come.

“It’s not like they [the IRFU] are not going to have the chat. It’s going to be a bit later, but that just happens. That’s the way it has gone.

“We just have to get on with it. We’ve got too much to be worried about with regard to the weekend.

“That is going to come down the line. It’s a couple of weeks later than normal but we just have to battle on and do what we can do best.”

31-year-old O’Mahony will hope to extend his central IRFU contract beyond next summer but his more immediate concern is this weekend’s Autumn Nations Cup third-place play-off against Scotland in Dublin.

peter-omahony Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ireland struggled at the breakdown again last weekend. Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

After a very poor second-half showing against Georgia last time out, Ireland have clear areas to focus on for improvement against Gregor Townsend’s Scots.

“The big thing is probably our breakdown,” said O’Mahony. “We were certainly trying hard but our accuracy there… it doesn’t matter what you have in place really, that part of the game has to be immaculate if you want to do everything else in the game.

“Everything starts and finishes with that. It’s something that we spoke about from last weekend.”

Ireland have been a real force at the breakdown in recent years, with previous head coach Joe Schmidt having put a huge focus on that area.

However, their accuracy at the breakdown hasn’t been as strong under new boss Andy Farrell over the past few weeks.

O’Mahony hinted that focusing on other areas of the game may have led to Ireland letting their breakdown detail slip.

“It’s not something you just lose overnight,” said the Cork man. “Obviously, we’re doing a lot of learning, we’ve learned an incredible amount in the last couple of weeks, regarding different aspects of the game and sometimes you might just not remember to do your little bit of homework on that side of things or for whatever reason.

“It’s just about emphasising that for the week coming with the threats that Scotland pose. The threats that every side pose when it comes to the breakdown are so important and we’ll certainly be working hard on that this week.”

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