O'Mahony aims to lead Munster after 'tough few days'
It's been a few days, but Peter O'Mahony is still struggling to rationalise what happened at Allianz Park last weekend.
The skipper has been afraid to go beyond his front door this week for fear of making eye contact with a fan, friend or family member he feels Munster let down against Saracens. The shame is very real.
Supporters want reasons for his Munster team's meek capitulation and European exit, but the skipper doesn't want to be seen to offer excuses. A win over Sale Sharks on Sunday won't get them into the European quarter-finals, but it might make life in Cork a little bit easier.
"You don't want to go out. It's frightening the difference between a big win and a big loss, it's a tough place to be but that's the job we're in I'm afraid," he said. "You can't hang around feeling sorry for yourself. You've got to get on with it. We've got to go out on Sunday… we've left a huge amount of people down last weekend and we've got to dig deep and show them that it's there on Sunday, that we're better than that, that there's a performance there that they deserve and we need to show.
"It's tough, it's been a tough few days. Look if we're not going to hold on to the ball and going to carry on with the amount of mistakes we made, you're never going to compete with a team like Saracens.
"You're not going to give yourself a chance. We gave them every opportunity, every platform and you're just not going to compete if you're going to play like that."
O'Mahony still believes in Munster and doesn't contemplate the myriad of problems that pundits have presented to their chances of future progression. He believes in his squad and his team.
They could do with him signing up for the future himself.
Out of contract at the end of the season, the captain's name has yet to be added to the long list of Irish frontliners to have reached agreement with the IRFU. Munster are in need of good news and O'Mahony's signature would be worth shouting about.
Negotiations between his agent Conor Ridge and the union are ongoing; the player describes the process as "long and slow", but asserts that staying at home is his preference.
"That's private business at the moment," he said when asked if the moneyed clubs of France and England had been in touch. "I'm not discussing it at a table like this. I'm hoping to get it done as fast as possible."
What he is willing to talk about is the future of his province and the fact that cash, in his opinion, is not necessarily king.
"It's not like Munster are going to go away or have gone away," he said. "It was a poor performance but we've got to believe in ourselves, believe in what we're doing and we need to show everyone who matters to us how important it is to put in a performance from us.
"Munster have competed with them for years. Munster has never been flowing with money. We've always relied on our academy, on the players coming through having a passion to play for Munster.
"Munster is a team that drew in players because of what we do and I think we have to stay at it, to stick at it.
"We've had a good look at ourselves and we need to stay on it. It's there, we know it's there. We have a good squad and there's good young fellas coming through.
"There's good guys there at the moment and we've just got to keep plugging away.
"Money and injuries? I don't think any of the players have given those excuses. I don't think we have given any excuses. We were very poor at the weekend. If guys aren't going to hold on to the ball, if guys are going to miss roles, as I said you're not going to compete with a team like Saracens.
"If you have all the money in the world, if you're Toulon or whoever; if you're going to play like that you're not going to compete."
The blindside was among the 10 Munster men named in Joe Schmidt's mammoth 46-man extended Six Nations squad yesterday, but he warned his provincial team-mates that the performance levels shown last weekend won't cut it at Carton House.
"You're certainly not doing yourself any favours but that's a question for Joe really," he admitted. "Losing three in a row in Europe isn't going to do us any favours."
Sunday presents a new challenge for the Munster captain, leading his team into a battle where the consequences of the result have no significance.
"It's not something that I'd prepared for before but the carrot is to show the people that we let down last weekend our belief in the jersey hasn't changed. That's important to me."