Peter O'Mahony an injury concern for Ireland after "popped rib" in Munster win
As the Munster captain looked to make a rip on the ball-carrier, and keep up with his ridiculous average of three turnovers per game, he looked in immediate discomfort.
Peter O'Mahony is in the form of his life, this season, but his momentum is set to be slowed by a rib injury sustained in Munster's bonus point win over Gloucester on Friday.
Heading into the Champions Cup clash, O'Mahony had been in great nick. He missed the win over Leinster in the Guinness PRO14 but returned to spur his side on to another fine victory, over Connacht, in Galway. Following that game, on Baz & Andrew's House of Rugby, former Munster centre Barry Murphy declared:
"He’s having the season of his life, at this point.
I heard during the pre-season that he had a huge pre-season. His fitness was better than ever and he was working very hard, and it has just shown in every game that he’s played. He has massive moments throughout now, in every aspect of the game. Three turnovers again at the weekend. Couple of lineout steals as well."
The blindside was looking well up for the fight against Gloucester, at Kingsholm, too. With Munster opting to ram straight up through the Gloucester ranks, the hosts ceded ground time and again and had already leaked tries to Joey Carbery and Rory Scannell.
O'Mahony sustained his rib injury on 45 minutes as he tried to rip the ball from a Gloucester ball-carrier. It is possible that the ribs had been dunted in an earlier collision but the coming together 20 metres from his own tryline did for O'Mahony and he was replaced by Billy Holland without much complaint.
Munster conceded a try after 36 phases of defence - and surging Gloucester attack - soon after but they rallied to scored three more of their own and secure a 41-15 victory that puts them in control of their pool. Exeter Chiefs are up next, at Thomond Park, but O'Mahony is unlikely to feature. Indeed, he could be done with Munster for a stretch.
Following the game, Munster coach Johann van Graan told The Irish Times:
"Pete's in a bit of pain. It looks like a rib. We’ll obviously have to take our time with it and re-assess on Monday. Sometimes it heals quickly and other times not, so I’ve got no update but it’s definitely a popped rib."
Rib injuries can be managed if there is no serious break so O'Mahony may just be withdrawn from the line of fire for a few weeks. Later in the month, he would be expected to start taking contact again to see how his body holds up.
The smart option - with the World Cup in mind - may be to sit him out of the opening two rounds of matches (England and Scotland) and feed him back into the team midway through the Six Nations.
BLINDSIDE OPTIONS FOR IRELAND
Still, as van Graan said, it is too early to tell at this stage. The South African expressed major concern over a knee issue, on Tuesday, but the centre played 68 minutes at Kingsholm and looked in good nick.
Time will tell but time may yet be the best healer for the Munster captain.