Peter O'Mahony puts provincial rivalries aside to pay touching Dan Leavy tribute
"He was destined for great things."
As a player that has battled back from a potentially career-ending knee injury, in 2016, Peter O'Mahony is in a spot where he can perfectly emphatise with Dan Leavy.
Leavy suffered a horrific knee injury, in March 2019, and although he made a playing comeback 19 months later, ongoing injury issues have forced him to retire at the age of just 27.
As Munster captain O'Mahony was up for press duty today, ahead of a double-header against Exeter in the Champions Cup Last 16. The back-row spoke about re-setting quickly after the weekend league defeat to Leinster, but spoke from the heart when asked about Leavy.
"I'm gutted to hear the news for him," he began. "An incredible athlete and incredible rugby player but he's a top man, which is more important."
O'Mahony and Leavy played together in 2017 and 2018, including the Six Nations Grand Slam triumph and on a winning Test Series against the Wallabies, Down Under. The Cork native clearly rates Leavy as a player, and a person, as his further comments showed.
Peter O'Mahony on Dan Leavy's contribution to Irish rugby
"Playing alongside Dan," O'Mahony reflected, "I was lucky enough to do it in the 2018 season when we won the Grand Slam.
"He had an incredibly pivotal role in that campaign, and in that team. He really kicked on into that group, and what has turned out to be that younger age group that is now with Ireland. He was destined for great things, to be honest.
"It is very tough, for everyone playing rugby in Ireland, to hear that kind of news. He's just a good person, so that is the main reason, but it's an incredible athlete and rugby player that Leinster and Ireland have lost. Sad news today."
Munster are set to be without Gavin Coombes for both legs of their Last 16 legs against Exeter. Attack coach Stephen Larkham confirmed that Coombes has gone for a scan on his injured ankle but his rehabbing picture will only become clear in the next 48 hours.
Dave Kilcoyne and Tadhg Beirne are out of the first leg, but Mike Haley and Simon Zebo are back training fully and should be available for selection.