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'An incredibly enjoyable environment': POM relishing competition, skills work in Ireland camp

The blindside typified an apparent renewed focus on skills during the win over Italy.

‘I’VE HAD A few good ones,’ argues Peter O’Mahony with a smile when the topic of his sensational offload to assist Bundee Aki’s try against Italy on Saturday arises.

It’s an element of the game that nobody would claim is the flanker’s foremost attribute, but he stretched his hand around the corner and fluidly offered the ball up for his centre like it was effortless second nature.

Effortless is an ill-fitting word here, however.

“It comes down to work,” says O’Mahony when asked if coaches were now allowing Ireland’s players more freedom to show the range of their skill-sets.

“You can’t just do that at the weekend without there being a lot of practice involved. 

“I suppose with the group that’s taken over… I remember the first the first day at the High Performance Centre, straight into skills. (That) was the first thing that we got into and we’ve just come out of it there (this morning) too so we’re constantly practising it.

“It’s bound to become part of your game.”

O’Mahony was already in an unusual role for Ireland as he was among the replacements for the first Test back against Italy. Caelan Doris, Will Connors and CJ Stander benefited from his delayed arrival in camp last week. But O’Mahony clearly enjoyed the challenge of making a late run and to impact as a replacement.

“I have to say, it’s an incredibly enjoyable environment and we’re bouncing off each other and enjoying it.

“I’d be sitting here lying to you if I said I didn’t want to start, but at the end of the day there are 23 people who need to take to the pitch at any given time on a Saturday or a Sunday.

“There’s a massive emphasis put on our bench to come on and not just roll in but to make a difference.”

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irelands-peter-omahony-is-tackled-by-italys-federico-mori-and-carlo-canna Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

The Corkman is asked whether he feels he has a battle on his hands to regain a starting spot after Doris, Connors and Stander helped Ireland run up 50 points on Italy and tee up a Championship chase against France next weekend.

Yes, but it’s always that way.

“There’s 67, 68 or 69 battles every week,” says O’Mahony.

“We’re in a battle every week to get a jersey, never mind a start so I have to say I’m hugely enjoying it and learning from it. The performance from the starting back row at the weekend was, I thought, second to none.”

Doubtless, O’Mahony would be content to deliver his impact from the number 20 shirt again this weekend if it meant Ireland coming out on top of the Six Nations table with a bonus point win in Paris.

It’s likely that’s what will be needed to adorn Farrell’s first campaign with a trophy, but either way Ireland will know what’s required come kick-off. And they will remain acutely aware that results don’t come easily away to France.

“It’s a cup final week and you don’t need any more motivation than that, to win trophies with your national team – that’s the epitome of it.

“A competition as competitive as this, weeks like this don’t come around very often. It’s important to enjoy them.

“But it’s important to understand what it takes to win a Championship. That’s secondary, winning in France is a different animal to lots of these games and we need to understand the challenges ahead.”

About the author:

Sean Farrell

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