"You don't like to see one of your men go down" - Peter O'Mahony 10 months ago

"You don't like to see one of your men go down" - Peter O'Mahony

"Yeah, I've been in discussions with the IRFU there. That's where it is, really. A discussion."

Asked if he cared to elaborate on that answer about his contract negotiations, Peter O'Mahony simply said, "No."

Advertisement

If there is any blinking to be done, as talks go on about a potential two year deal for the Munster back-row, they are unlikely to come from his side of the table.

O'Mahony is 31 now and will be 34 by the time the 2023 World Cup rolls around. However, like Ireland captain Johnny Sexton, he will feel he has done enough to merit a deal up to June 2023 with the option to tack on an extra four or five months to take him to the end of that tournament.

At present, and given his past performances, O'Mahony merits a good deal. He was up there with Caelan Doris and Andrew Porter as Ireland's most consistent performers in the concluded 2020 Six Nations and the Autumn Nations Cup.

Heading into the 2021 Six Nations, the return of Tadhg Furlong and the withdrawal of Doris (concussion-like symptoms) could see new roles and responsibilities for Porter and O'Mahony.

Peter O'Mahony pictured before an Autumn Nations Cup match between Ireland and Scotland at the Aviva Stadium. (Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile)

O'Mahony started off as a sub for Ireland as they closed out their Six Nations campaign, last autumn, by beating Italy and losing to France. He forced himself back into the starting XV and was excellent against Wales and Scotland, as well as being one of only a handful of Irish players to emerge from another Twickenham loss with much credit.

Advertisement

Andy Farrell prefers O'Mahony in the openside role but the loss of Doris means CJ Stander could revert back to No.8 and O'Mahony could resume duties at blindside. For all his praise of Doris (below) the Cork native feels Ireland are still well equipped to take on the Welsh, on Sunday.

"It's not tough. You have six or seven back-rowers here that are fighting for three spots. The big thing about it is, you don't like to see one of your men go down.

"Caelan has been one of the outstanding Irish players of the last 18 months, two years. I have to say, I've been beyond impressed with him, particularly his footballing skills... his ability to catch-pass, his ability to move his feet in the line, to carry hard when he needs to, his tackling, his poaching. He has been exceptional and he certainly will be a big loss. But, like I said, there are guys there who are hungry.

"We demand that when someone goes down, that there's someone there to step in and it is as seamless as possible. It has to be at international rugby. You can't be waiting for people."

Speaking of hungry, Ireland have called in two eager, young players - in Gavin Coombes and Ryan Baird - to train with the senior squad this week. O'Mahony speaks highly of both forwards.

Gavin Coombes Gavin Coombes and Ryan Baird have both trained with Ireland this week. (Credit: Sportsfile)
Advertisement

"They've been great," says O'Mahony. "It's a good environment to come in and learn really quickly.

"There are guys that are very willing to help anyone when they come in. I trained with Ryan, even before the World Cup, and he's a man who is incredibly talented and hungry to learn and, since he arrived again, get stuck in.

"Gavin Coombes has been playing some great rugby and has done well. There's a lot to learn for these guys, for sure, around the environment... You're expected to be up to speed like you've been in here a long time. But I think it is a testament to the group, they way they have rallied around and got the lads up to speed."

Both Coombes and Baird are likely to head back to their provinces, later this week, as the senior squad turn their focus to winning away in Wales for the first time since 2013.

Right now, the back-row looks likely to be Peter O'Mahony, Will Connors and CJ Stander but with Rhys Ruddock included and Tadhg Beirne as a wildcard option, Farrell could spring a selection surprise yet.

Advertisement