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Dublin: 8°C Tuesday 18 May 2021

O'Mahony refuses to give up on chance to tour South Africa with Ireland just yet

The 26-year-old says he has a big decision to make in the next 10 days.

MUNSTER CAPTAIN PETER O’Mahony has refused to give up on the prospect of touring South Africa with Ireland in June, but says he must decide in the next 10 days whether or not he will be fit to travel.

Peter O'Mahony O'Mahony at Munster training in Thomond Park on Tuesday. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

The 26-year-old has been sidelined since rupturing the ACL in his right knee during Ireland’s World Cup campaign last year and Munster head coach Anthony Foley recently suggested that the flanker would not be seen on the pitch again until next season.

However, O’Mahony says he has a big decision to make in the next 10 days.

“I’m very, very close,” said O’Mahony at last night’s IRUPA awards in Dublin when asked if he could make a return this season. “I’m nearly back training with the [Munster] squad, so I wouldn’t say never.

I’ll have to make a decision over the next 10 days what the story is. I’ve been given every opportunity but I’ve got to see how training goes over the next week to 10 days and make a call on the rest of the season.

“I’ve got to be honest about how I feel and the lads [the medical teams at Munster and Ireland] have got to make a decision about how I feel out on the grass.

“I don’t want to go to South Africa and not give a good account of myself, so it’ll be partly medical staff but I’ve got to be honest with myself. If I’m not right, I won’t put my hand up.”

O’Mahony said the prospect of making history with Ireland, who have never won against the Springboks on South African soil, has been weighing heavily on his mind.

Peter O'Mahony down injured O'Mahony was injured at the World Cup. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“At the end of the day, I’m a rugby player and touring is one of the best parts of rugby. I’d love to be able to tour. Any tour is great craic and it’s great memories. I’ve never been to South Africa and obviously the fact that we’ve never won there, it’d be lovely to go there, have a nice tour and be in with a chance to set history.

“Of course, I’d love to go but I’ve got to take other things into account. It’s not just my head. Of course, my head wants to go, but I’ve got to see whether my body will allow me to go.”

O’Mahony admitted it’s been a “very tough” season watching Munster and Ireland from the sidelines since his knee injury last year, but said his mood has been improving the closer he gets to full fitness.

Munster’s tough campaign under Foley has been felt every step of the way by the Cork man.

“I’m still captain of the squad and it hurts. I’ve been supporting Munster for a long time and it’s been tough in the last few weeks, but we had a great win last week [against Edinburgh] and I thought it was a great performance, even though it added probably 10 years to my life.

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“We have another big week ahead of us now, and there’s a lot at stake this weekend [against the Scarlets].”

CJ Stander, who was named IRUPA players’ player of the year last night, has stepped into the role of Munster captain in O’Mahony’s absence to impressive effect.

Peter O'Mahony O'Mahony says Rassie Erasmus is a positive signing for Munster. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

“CJ is flying it,” said O’Mahony. “He had a super Six Nations and has been unbelievable for Munster. He’s really stepped into a leadership role and the captaincy role as he’s been playing superbly.”

Munster have also announced a new director of rugby for next season while O’Mahony has been working hard to make his return on the pitch.

South African Rassie Erasmus will arrive in as the new boss next season, working alongside Foley, and O’Mahony welcomed the appointment.

“I’ve done a bit of reading on him since he’s been appointed,” said O’Mahony. “I think it’s a great signing for Munster and it’s a great opportunity for the players, but we have a game at the weekend that’s really important for the lads.

“It’s been put to one side for the moment and the lads know they’ve got to keep their eye on the ball.”

- Article updated at 13.03.

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