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'We hate losing': O'Mahony silently simmering ahead of England clash

The blindside cut an intense figure as he put the final touches on preparation for the opener.

SPEAK SOFTLY AND carry a big stick.

The idiom always suits Peter O’Mahony, if not the Peter O’Mahony we all see take the field on matchdays.

But after training at the Aviva Stadium today, he personified the expression like never before. The stick of wilful intent was gripped tight in his hand, his low voice took the feel of a calm before a coming storm.

Peter O'Mahony O'Mahony in the Aviva this afternoon. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

A Six Nations opener is always going to bring that determined look to the Corkman’s face, when that opener is England at home, the drive is tenfold.

O’Mahony is cranked up and ready to unleash everything he’s got on England. Because the thought of anything else, the idea of losing, doesn’t bear thinking about.

“Fear is always a factor for us,” says the Munster captain with echoes of Paul O’Connell.

“Fear of letting people down, fear of losing. We hate losing.

It’s always a part (of you), it’s always a little bit there that drives you on and that’s across the board for any competitive athlete, that fear of losing, fear of letting people down, fear of letting your team-mates down is always there and it has to be a bit of a factor.”

That brand of fear grows as the loss ratio decreases. Ireland have only tasted defeat once in the last 19 Tests, a run of form that included a Grand Slam and a win over New Zealand. Yet O’Mahony balks at the suggestion there would be any difficulty in summoning the desire to chase that kind of success.

“It’s the hunger. The hunger you have to play for Ireland. If you don’t have that, you’re not in the right place being in this group,” he said methodically.

“That’s what drives us, having a chance to play in a green jersey. Whether it be starting or on the bench or having aspirations to do it, hopefully, in the Six Nations and beyond, that’s what drives us and drives our group.

Peter O'Mahony The Munster captain at training in the Aviva. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“Obviously, we’re in the business to win but putting on the jersey every time, that’s the driving factor for this group.”

Asked whether a second consecutive Grand Slam was among the driving factors or targets for this group, the Corkman said:

“You always set goals but we certainly don’t put a huge amount down the line. We know we if we stumble against England at home, we’ll be on the back foot for the rest of the Six Nations.”

“England at home, it just doesn’t get any bigger than that. We know how a big a challenge it’s going to be. The quality across their side speaks for itself with the team they named.

“We’re under no illusions how difficult it’s going to be.”

A quiet word from O’Mahony resonates more than most. A slightly extended exhale, a deliberate pause and that intense look in his eyes only add weight to his sentiment.

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Sean Farrell

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