Cian Tracey: O'Mahony hoping his patience will pay off
Versatile back has had to bide his time with Munster
Published 22/01/2016 | 02:30
Ronan O'Mahony's Munster career may have not yet fully ignited but there is an ever-growing sense of awareness that the next few weeks are crucial for him.
Opportunities have been scarce for the winger-cum-full-back but when he has been given a chance, he has impressed.
Injuries, as well as the fact that Munster are not exactly short on back-three options, have hampered his progress but since coming on against Stade Francais in Paris, he has remained in the starting XV.
With Keith Earls and Simon Zebo set to play a part in Ireland's Six Nations campaign, O'Mahony is only too aware that he is at a crucial juncture of his career.
When Felix Jones was forced to retire earlier this season, it seemed as though the door would open for the 26-year-old from Limerick but the short-term signing of Argentinian international Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino limited his game-time.
Mentally, it's been a testing time for O'Mahony who before signing a two-year contract extension last February had offers on the table from other clubs which would have guaranteed him more game-time, but he chose to stay and fight for his place.
"With a groin injury at the start of the season I was out for four or five months and that's obviously out of my control and it was a bit longer than I expected but the coaches told me get back playing rugby and stay fit and you'll get you chance," O'Mahony recalled.
"You're sitting in the background and you're waiting. You're prepared, you're fully clued into what's going on. When you do get your chance you just have to take it.
"The chance has come and you want to grab it with two hands when you are there and there is no better stage than in Europe.
"There is a run of games especially with the Six Nations coming up when there will be a number of lads in and out of the squad and there could be opportunities for a lot of lads to get in.
"Like every other Pro12 team we are going to be missing our internationals. It's a crucial period for us, we need everyone to step up.
"Everyone who maybe hasn't been getting that much game-time, maybe a bit disheartened that they haven't been getting game-time but there are opportunities coming."
Deep down, the signing of Amorosino surely dampened his spirits but O'Mahony maintained that he learned from the Argentinian who will leave the province next week.
"Amorosino came in because Felix Jones retired mid-season and obviously they wanted somebody to fill a gap and Lucas was available," he explained.
"I think him coming in makes us better players. They've (Argentinians) got these little subtleties in their game their little offloads, they like to move the ball.
"Lucas is a good lad. He's good in the air and he's a tidy footballer.
"They (Munster coaches) had him on the bench and maybe he can cover a couple of more positions but I try and look at Lucas and see what he is good at and try and add that to my game and vice versa.
"In Munster, it's unbelievably competitive in the back three but the best thing about it is we are all trying to learn from each other and were all driving each other on.
"There's no 'I should be in instead of him' or 'he should be in instead of me', everyone is just trying to drive players to become the best they can."
A yellow card for taking a player out in the air wasn't part of the plan against Stade in Thomond Park last week but other than that blot, it was an assured display from O'Mahony, even if he didn't get as much ball in hand as he would have hoped.
He will be handed another chance to stake his claim against Treviso on Sunday and it is one that he feels that he is ready to take.
Given that O'Mahony's Munster debut came way back in 2009, he has been around long enough to see the changes but he firmly believes that the club is moving in the right direction.
"Sometimes it's hard to take a lot of that kind of criticism but we know we're a good team," he insisted.
"They say the difference between a good team and a great team is consistency so we need to bring that in this week going to Treviso."
Munster, as well as O'Mahony, are in need of another big performance come Sunday afternoon.