Tuesday 22 January 2019

Peter O'Mahony: Our eyes on Racing, not All-Ireland final

Munster captain Peter O'Mahony Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Munster captain Peter O'Mahony Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

Munster captain Peter O'Mahony says his side aren't thinking about the prospect of an all-Ireland final in Bilbao as they seek to join Leinster at the San Mamés stadium on May 12 by beating Racing 92 in a stifling hot Bordeaux this afternoon.

Temperatures are set to hit 28 degrees at the Stade Chaban-Delmas and tournament organisers EPCR are contemplating stopping the game for water breaks to help the players cope.

Johann van Graan's men went through their final preparations in the stadium yesterday evening and are expected to be backed by around 8,000 travelling fans who could even outnumber the Parisians.

Having lost five semi-finals in a row, they are determined to go one step further than they did last season and O'Mahony isn't thinking about who is lying in wait in the final after Leinster booked their place yesterday.

"That's certainly something that I'm not in a position to be commenting on or thinking about even," the Corkman said. "We've a big game tomorrow against one of the best teams in Europe and that's what our minds are firmly focused on.

"The main thing that's giving us confidence is the way we've trained and performed over the last six, eight weeks and longer. There's been a lot of hard work gone in, our training standard has been really high and for me that's where I get my confidence, seeing the guys training well.

"Games like Toulon are incredibly difficult games and hard games to win. Knockout rugby in Europe is some of the hardest games you'll ever play in and to come out the right side of a team like Toulon gives you confidence but it's a different challenge tomorrow. Racing are a different team, a different animal."

Both O'Mahony and coach Van Graan are expecting the heat to be a big factor today. "I struggle in the heat personally," the Ireland blindside said. "We're not really acclimatised to it so it's certainly a factor. It's 27, 28 degrees. We're lucky that we've come off the back of two South African games that we played in dry conditions with temperature and humidity quite high and the altitude as well.

"But it's a different type of heat out there. It's going to be a factor but it's there for both teams. I don't think either side has been playing in these kinds of temperatures for the last few months so it's going to be difficult for both sides."

His coach is concerned that the humidity will make life difficult for his players. "I think it will be a factor," Van Graan said. "It's really hot out there, even hotter than we anticipated so that will definitely be a challenge in tomorrow's game. A lot of humidity, the ball will be sweaty and wet as well."

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