Peter O’Mahony was non-committal on his Ireland future after their loss to New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup quarter final.
The Munster back-row said that it was ‘probably the toughest’ dressing room he’s ever been in as, after the game, Ireland came to terms with defeat.
O’Mahony paid tribute to his long-time team-mates Keith Earls and Johnny Sexton who are retiring after the tournament.
“It’s a tough dressing room, probably the toughest I have been in to be honest,” O’Mahony said in the mixed zone.
“But as Andy (Farrell) said, there are worse things going on in the world. We need to understand that over the next 24-28 hours.”
O’Mahony said that it is ‘the end of an era’ to see players like Sexton and Earls hang up the boots.
“It’s tough to lose these guys in these circumstances.
“I have spent a lot of time with him and Johnny.
“Probably most of my caps had one of the two of them in it, if not all of them. It’s tough to lose fellas like that, big characters and big players for us, and the best type of people who have your back all the time, good friends of mine.”
While calling it a tough pill to swallow in the immediate aftermath, O’Mahony says he has huge faith in Ireland’s younger players to ‘step up to the plate.’
“There’s a great group of young players there, and players who aren’t here or in the squad who can step up to the plate as well. There’s no doubt this team will have left Irish rugby in a better place.
“We have achieved a huge amount together over the past four years. We are disappointed tonight, but I think we can be proud of where we have left the jersey.
“It’s a terribly tough pill to swallow.
“Obviously we had plans to continue on for the next couple of weeks but I am proud of the lads and the way they have carried themselves.”
“I am sure there’s lots of young kids who we have inspired to take up the game who might be in this position in 15, 20 years. “It is the end of an era, there’s no other way of putting it. There are a group of senior players who are moving on.”
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As regards his own future, O’Mahony (34) says he will re-assess at the end of the year.
“We’ll see. It is a tough one to take just now and a lot of my friends won’t be back. I have a contract until the end of the year and we will see where we go after that.”
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