Saturday 21 October 2017

'Until you're on the plane and on the pitch for them, you aren't a Lion' - Skipper O'Mahony fully focused on Munster

Peter desperate to beat Scarlets and claim first trophy since 2011

Peter O’Mahony of Munster speaking during the Guinness PRO12 Final Press Conference
Peter O’Mahony of Munster speaking during the Guinness PRO12 Final Press Conference
Munster’s Ian Keatley gets in some kicking practice at the Aviva Stadium yesterday. Photo: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

The Lions are the furthest thing from Peter O'Mahony's mind as he and his Munster colleagues look to end their six-year wait for a trophy.

The Reds last claimed the Guinness PRO12 in 2011 and just three members of that team, Keith Earls, Conor Murray and Donnacha Ryan, are part of the 23-man squad selected by Rassie Erasmus yesterday.

Although he played a part in the earlier stage of that season, O'Mahony was not involved in the final and is desperate to lift his first trophy as Munster captain by beating a Scarlets side who will have to be respected after their heroic win over Leinster last weekend.

O'Mahony flies to New Zealand with the Lions on Monday but he says it hasn't been difficult to focus on the task at hand.

"Look, it's easy because I want to do well for the club and I haven't won anything with this club. It means a huge amount to me," he said.

"So, it's easy. I've been selfish that way, I'm firmly in Munster camp at the moment.

"Since the last five or so weeks since it (the Lions squad) was announced, there's been lots of guys who've been named in touring squads with the Lions who haven't travelled, so that's always part and parcel of it.

"Until you're on the plane and on the pitch for them, you aren't one.

"I've got to put in a performance tomorrow and hopefully I'll stay fit and get on the plane. But I've a job to do tomorrow first.

"We've had a good training week, our preparation has been good and everyone takes confidence from that.

Not just this week, but the 48-odd weeks we've put down already, you take strength and confidence from that, not from what I or anyone else says in the dressing-room."

O'Mahony will not be going over the top with the emotional pitch in the dressing-room before the game, despite this being the last time Ryan will wear the red jersey before he departs for France.

Two years ago, Munster were beaten out the gate by Glasgow Warriors in the final in Belfast and although he was injured that day the captain is determined to learn the lessons.

"The fact that Paulie was leaving was a huge factor, it was a big part of (the performance) he'd been there so long," he said.

"You kind of run a similarity with Donners and, not that we made it all about it being Paulie's last game but the emotion was flowing because it was.

"And I'm not saying that was the reason we didn't perform well but I don't think it helped us and all the talk about it during the week.

"This time around, Donners knows how important he is, and how much he means to the club, but this week him more than anyone drove the rugby side of things, drove our lineout and drove our detail, as he always does.

He didn't carry on any differently. We just kept our heads down. If we're going to win, we're going to win because we play well and that's the most important thing."

Erasmus has kept faith with the same starting XV that beat Ospreys last weekend, meaning Francis Saili retains the No 13 shirt ahead of Jaco Taute despite the fact that the New Zealander is leaving at the end of the season and the South African is remaining.

The director of rugby put that decision down to form, while also taking the Scarlets into account.

Murray makes his 100th appearance for his home province, while Brian Scott comes on to the bench for the injured James Cronin.

The Welsh region, who last won this competition in 2004, are also unchanged after sacking the RDS last weekend and return to Dublin with little fear.

"Ireland hasn't been a happy hunting ground previous to this season for us," coach Wayne Pivac said. "I think we've got over that now and we come into the game giving ourselves every chance of being successful if we play well."

Irish Independent

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