“Don’t do it! I don’t know what it is, but don’t do it to yourself!”
We were mid-way through Ireland’s press conference section at the Six Nations launch, held in the Guinness Storehouse, when rugby reporter Gerry Thornley put his hand up for a question. Andy Farrell had a sharp response, eliciting a laugh from Peter O’Mahony.
Farrell was asked if any World Cup reviews had been planned, for the Ireland squad, when they assembled in Portugal for their training camp.
“We’ll be open and honest,” Farrell replied. “We’re open and honest, even when we’ve had good victories in the past… the only way you’ll move on is by addressing what has come before, good and bad.”
Asked if there would be any World Cup “hangover”, Farrell leaned forward. “I’m over it!” he declared, and he did a pretty convincing job with it.
Andy Farrell and Peter O’Mahony were up for media duty at the Guinness Six Nations launch. (Credit: Sportsfile)
“I was unbelievably proud with how we connected with our fans,” the Ireland coach continued. “That, for me, continues with how we get back on the horse… the journey continues. A lot of the fans that bought their flights for the [World Cup] semi-finals, I’ve heard from them, transferred those flights to Marseille.”
Peter O’Mahony on staying on with Ireland
That post-World Cup review was a topic Peter O’Mahony was asked about, too.
Happy to have a question that was not about his Munster and IRFU contract negotiations, O’Mahony spoke well on how the lows make the highs – such as the 2023 Grand Slam – more enjoyable.
“Loads of us have been through those tough defeats,” he reflected. “Those are the ones that make the good results so much better… you’ve got a decision to make – do you want that result to make you better, or do you want to let it hang over you?”
The best reply from O’Mahony, on a day when the coaches and captains have umpteen questions thrown their way, was if the media are too quick to write off players once they circle their mid 30s. “I feel great!” the 34-year-old began.
“I’ve been tipping away. It took a bit of time. It was obviously tough for the first few weeks but I’m back loving it… you get an email to say you’ve been selected for the Six Nations. It’s one of the best feelings.
“I still have some of the old letters at home. You’re driving up the road to meet up with the best 35 players in the country. Not everybody gets to feel that… if you can’t get excited for that, you’re in the wrong room.”
Other stand-outs at the Six Nations launch were new Italy coach Gonzalo Quesada recalling the 1999 World Cup win, for Argentina, over Ireland and Warren Gatland saying Wales would welcome Louis Rees-Zammit back to the Test set-up ‘with open arms’ if hs NFL stint did not work out.
England head coach Steve Borthwick should Irish rugby fans what they will be missing when he raved for three straight minutes on what makes Felix Jones so “exceptional”.
“He is one of the most intense people I have ever, ever met, and, knowing who I do, that is saying something!”
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