Tuesday 23 October 2018

Peter O'Mahony: Australia Test was the fastest game I've ever played

Peter O'Mahony of Ireland runs the ball
Peter O'Mahony of Ireland runs the ball

Rúaidhrí O'Connor in Brisbane

Peter O'Mahony described this morning's 18-9 defeat to Australia in Brisbane as one of the quickest games of his career.

The Munster man skippered his side to their first defeat in 13 internationals after a Wallaby power-play, but he is determined to learn lessons from the loss and come back stronger.

The Grand Slam winners were left to rue their inability to turn pressure into points at Suncorp Stadium as tries from Bernard Foley and David Pocock did the damage for the World Cup finalists.

From the start of the game, the hosts were determined to lay down a physical marker and it took its toll on an Ireland team known for being able to dominate opponents.

"That first-half was one of the quickest I've played in my career," he said.

"Every time I come up against Australia the intensity and physicality is second to none

"There wasn't a lot of people talking about the Australian physicality before the game, but you saw how physical they were in the first 10, 15 minutes and they carried it through the game.

"Certainly, the intensity and physicality is always up there with a team of the quality that the Wallabies have."

Ireland move to Melbourne tomorrow to begin preparations for next Saturday’s do-or-die second Test.

And O'Mahony says all is not lost.

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"We'll have a look and there are things for us to work on, but it's not all just thrown out the window," he said.

"We stick to our process, our plan.

"We're hugely disappointed, but that's the beauty of a three-match tour that you get back on the horse, whoever is selected, and get another shot. A chance to put it right.

"We'll be the ones putting pressure on ourselves to get ahead of where we need to be.

"A week down the line is a long time for a test match and there's a lot of areas we have to work on, so we'll go and have a look at it.

"But we need to get ahead of where we're at and I suppose we're there at the moment as well."

Head coach Joe Schmidt had no regrets about making changes to his team.

The New Zealander handed starts to Joey Carbery, Rob Herring and John Ryan who all performed well and Schmidt believes the investment will pay off in the long term and he intends to continue with his selection plans over the remaining games in Australia.

"I don't think we can afford to change some of the plans that we've got because we now have 11 Test matches between now and the lead in to the World Cup and, such as I'm incredibly frustrated by the four-year cycle that everyone talks about, we've had a pretty good run since the last World Cup," he said.

"We've capped 33 players, so we've probably capped the guys that we're interested in but we now need to give them opportunity because we can't be caught with guys who haven't had that experience and haven't been in that white-hot atmosphere that playing a big team - that whole furnace that occurred tonight with that time and space taken away, how physical it was.

"Joey went down at one stage, because he got smashed in a good tackle.

"But the skill of the young man, he still got the ball away and we made progress on the back of it.

"So, those sorts of things, I do think we will persist with because we do have a limited window."

Schmidt was happy with how his out-half went.

"He was pretty solid really," the coach said.

"He came off the field (with the score) at 9-8, that's not a bad return for a young man who's really starting his first big tier one Test match and he put a lot of work into his preparation during the week.

"He'll be disappointed that he didn't get the kick (he missed) because it was a reasonably comfortable angle and that could have just given us a little bit of a comfort zone and applied a little bit more pressure to the Wallabies.

"But I thought his tackle quality was good and his distribution was generally good.

"He put a few guys into a little bit of space. He missed a couple of passes due to that pressure of time and certainly they were giving us as little as possible.

"They were all over us at times and it did make it very hard to be able to spring too much together."

Keith Earls is the main injury concern ahead of next week's game after he failed to re-appear after undergoing a Head Injury Assessment.

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