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Ryan Byrne/INPHO O'Mahony will captain Munster on Sunday.
# fresh faces
'I trained with a guy who was born in 2004... Earlsie could have been his father!'
Munster captain Peter O’Mahony has been impressed by the young players at training.

THERE HAVE BEEN some very fresh faces around Munster’s training camp in Limerick over the past week or so.

With 33 players isolating either in Ireland or South Africa, the province have had to call on reinforcements from their academy and further down the pipeline in the ‘national talent squad’ [NTS].

Munster have nominated 22 players from the pathway to be added to their Champions Cup squad ahead of Sunday’s clash with Wasps as they cover all bases in ensuring they will be able to field a matchday 23 for the game in Coventry.

They’re fortunate to have a crop of nine senior international players available too, with captain Peter O’Mahony among them. 

At the age of 32, the Cork man has been feeling like a veteran more than ever in Munster recently.

“I think I trained with a guy who was born in 2004 the other day,” said O’Mahony this afternoon. “Earlsie [Keith Earls] could have been his father, we reckoned!

“I wouldn’t have come across him, there are guys just out of school, but to see some of the talent that’s come on is incredible. It’s really encouraging for the club.”

While O’Mahony pointed out that the Covid upheaval caused by Munster’s trip to South Africa has been a challenge, he cut a relaxed and positive figure ahead of the Wasps clash.

The Munster skipper said there “has been great craic around the place” at the province’s high performance training centre in Limerick, where academy boss Ian Costello has been leading the preparation for the Wasps clash.

“It has been great to see some of the young fellas that mightn’t have popped into us over the next few months to be in and be a really important part of our training for the last two weeks,” said O’Mahony.

“You get a real insight into what we’re producing in the academy and beyond. So it’s been great that way, getting to know the guys has been brilliant but there’s been loads of challenges.

“Normally when it comes to a European Cup week you’re kind of fine-tuning but we have had sessions where we were going back to some of our core stuff, trying to get guys up to speed.

“But look, that’s been a test as well for some of the leadership guys and the international guys who are still here. It’s been a really enjoyable couple of weeks for us.”

O’Mahony has naturally been playing a mentorship role this week given the amount of inexperience around the Munster group.

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But he is aware that the youngsters simply need to be backed.

“It’s daunting enough for them. You don’t want to make it harder than it is, they’re going to be putting themselves under enough pressure,” said O’Mahony.

“We’re lucky, we’ve a big group of internationals who are left here who they can fall back on. All I say is, ‘Ask questions and enjoy yourselves.’

“We’re going to put our best foot forward come Sunday regardless, it’s going to be brilliant.

“They’re picked in the academy and the NTS for a reason, they’ve shown they’ve got incredible talent and they want to bring that to the forefront. That’s the main objective.”

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