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'You've got to believe' - O'Mahony backs Munster for Clermont trip

The Cork man feels his side need improvements in lots of areas, rather than a reinvention of the wheel.

O'Mahony was left frustrated at Thomond Park last weekend.
O'Mahony was left frustrated at Thomond Park last weekend.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

YOU NEVER GET much waffle from Peter O’Mahony.

He doesn’t usually reveal a whole lot, but the Munster captain is direct in his choice of words, straight to the point.

No different this week, the Corkman says his side don’t need to bin their entire gameplan as they aim to turn things around against Clermont in Pool 1 of the Champions Cup.

Instead, O’Mahony believes Munster need to make marginal gains in a wide range of sectors.

“We were not happy with how we executed,” says O’Mahony, “but we won’t be reinventing the wheel here. There’s little improvements to be got from lots of different areas, and I think if we can get them right, we can put in a good performance.

We need to improve on our breakdown stuff and the line-out wasn’t where we’d be happy with it. You look at all these things and put in place a plan that will improve them.

“In the line-out area you take a bigger gap; there’s things you can do, little things you can do legally that you can benefit from. It’s tough, but you need to review it, see what the details are, what we can do better.”

Clermont’s remarkable 77-game unbeaten run at home came to an end with defeat to Castres in last season’s Top 14 barrages phase [essentially, a quarter-final], while they lost to Montpellier at Stade Marcel-Michelin earlier in the current campaign.

Peter O'Mahony Munster may look to use O'Mahony as a link passer more often in Clermont. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Still, winning in the city of Clermont-Ferrand remains on the bucket list for many European clubs, and with a sold-out crowd of 18,030 delivering their usual frenetic performance in the stands, the odds are against Munster.

“They’re always good at home and the times they’ve been beaten, it’s through taking them on with a performance,” stresses O’Mahony. “We’re under no illusions that we’re going to have to put in a serious performance to beat them over there.”

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Munster have been written off in some quarters already, but O’Mahony has little time for the predictions of outsiders.

You’ve got to believe, you can’t go over there expecting to lose. We do believe in ourselves. It’s more about the process for the week is the important thing for us, getting ourselves right and getting the detail we didn’t get right last weekend nailed off.

“Then putting ourselves in the best position to forget about that stuff and focus on getting physical come Sunday.”

From an individual viewpoint, last weekend’s meeting in Limerick was one of O’Mahony’s quieter games in terms of impact. There can be no doubting his work-rate, but Clermont shut him down aggressively at every opportunity.

Peter O'Mahony The Corkman was part of Ireland's excellent November series. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The back row’s struggles were shared by many of his Ireland teammates, several of whom looked less than sharp after such an excellent November under Joe Schmidt. O’Mahony, however, insists there has been no hangover from that jump to third in the world.

“We came off the back of Australia, had a few days off, back in training later that week. Obviously we had the following weekend off. The previous week’s training was one of the best I’ve had in Munster, so I don’t think that was a factor.

I think Clermont were the problem on Saturday night.”

O’Mahony’s early scuffle with man of the match Fritz Lee at Thomond Park failed to interest referee Wayne Barnes greatly, and the flanker says there will be no grudges held going into Sunday’s return leg.

“No, these things happen. It was a non-event for me really to be honest. I think there was about 12 punches thrown and there wasn’t one landed!”

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