Monday 20 May 2019

O'Mahony feeling fresh ahead of Kingsholm battle

Peter O’Mahony prepares for a return to European action against Gloucester at Kingsholm Stadium on Friday night. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Peter O’Mahony prepares for a return to European action against Gloucester at Kingsholm Stadium on Friday night. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

As Munster and Leinster went to war in Thomond Park, Peter O'Mahony stood on the periphery with a batch of water bottles in his hand.

The captain cut a frustrated figure as he watched the running battle unfold, powerless to intervene.

It was all in the name of player welfare and O'Mahony, Munster and Ireland are hoping to see the benefit of his 'booster-weeks' in the coming months.

Yesterday, Gloucester coach Johann Ackermann was asked about the ability of English clubs to compete on two fronts and cast an envious eye across to the Irish system ahead of his team's battle with Munster on Friday.

Rotation

"English clubs will struggle in the Champions Cup for a while. It's the same faces playing each week. We can't rest as often. That's why I like rotation," the former Springbok said.

"Ireland work it really well. They rest key players and don't block home-grown talent coming through."

The rotation of front-line players may have frustrated some fans over the Christmas period, but the plan is to have them fit and firing this weekend as all four provinces face season-defining European games.

"It's no secret that we are well-managed from the IRFU side of things," O'Mahony said.

"The strength and conditioning (S&C) group and management were keen to get me a bit of a rest and to get a good clatter of gym stuff and a S&C booster week on top of a bit of a rest week as well.

"Sometimes it is hard when you are a player, you obviously want to play rugby and certainly for me I get a benefit out of consistency in games and that kind of thing.

"But you trust the backroom guys and the S&C group here, how well looked after we are and their thought process of picking these weeks to get a bit of work done and stay fresh for what will, hopefully be, a long season.

"They (the interpros) are the ones you want to be involved in, they are as close as you are going to get to Europe and being at home in Thomond Park, you want to play all those games, but as I said, you trust the guys who are looking after you in Ireland and here.

"They know what they are doing and as I said, I felt great last weekend and was happyish with the way it went.

"It does (help mentally) I suppose. You are playing big games consistently, so mentally you are on a lot of the time.

"It is a stressful enough environment and it is nice to certainly get a few days away and chill out and, as I said, get some good work done as well."

O'Mahony returned to action with a rare try against Connacht on Saturday as Munster produced an excellent all-round performance at the Sportsground.

The province appear to have rediscovered their mojo since losing away to Castres before Christmas and while that defeat still stings the captain, he is hoping the team have learnt from the experience.

Beauty

"It certainly hurt but you have to remember you are going into the Top 14 champions' backyard in France, it's always so difficult," he said.

"The beauty of rugby is you have a game the following weekend, well most fellas had, you have to get back into it, learn your lessons and get on with it.

"(You) try and implement fixes for things that went wrong that day. We certainly did a lot of that over the last two weeks.

"Our standards were quite high and we improved some of the stuff that we weren't very happy with.

"We have got to keep building now this weekend.

"You can see (the pool) wide open. Cup rugby stuff, I know it's a cliché but it's very accurate in this scenario. It's hugely important that we certainly get our performance because if we don't get our performance we are not going to be winning this weekend."

Irish Independent

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