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Positive Covid test was a reality check for all of us in Irish rugby - O'Mahony


Peter O'Mahony. Photo: Sportsfile

Peter O'Mahony. Photo: Sportsfile

Peter O'Mahony. Photo: Sportsfile

Peter O'Mahony insists he doesn't have any reservations about returning to action this weekend, despite a Munster player testing positive for Covid-19 last week.

The province returned to training on Monday following last week's cancellation of two sessions, including an in-house game which was seen as an important part of Munster's preparations leading into the vital Leinster clash this Saturday.

Although the academy player who tested positive is recovering well, he is currently self-isolating along with six of his team-mates, including a senior player, who were deemed to be potential close contacts.

For all that the province were given a real wake-up call in terms of the precarious nature of rugby's return, O'Mahony is happy that Munster were able to react quickly and control the spread of the virus.

"I think when you're in the rugby bubble, you're taken out of reality a little bit and that was a proper reality check for us, that unfortunately this disease is among everyone and nobody is immune to it," the Munster captain reflects.

"I've no doubt it's not going to be the last case in Irish rugby in general over the foreseeable future. And I think it just showed that you think all the processes are a little bit over the top, but I think we would have been in big trouble if it hadn't been for our protocols and our processes.

"You hear those words a lot about rugby, but with regard to trying to control the virus, they stood to us definitely and it just shows how important they were, everything from hand washing to the one-way systems to the social distancing in the gym.

"It's very different but it's something that we're going to have to get used to for a long period by the looks of it."

According to Johann van Graan, the academy player was "shocked" to learn that he had contracted the virus, but while Munster are able to implement strict protocols inside their own four walls, as soon as players and staff leave the so-called 'bubble', they are at risk just as much as anyone else.

"It helps, certainly, the way we can run this building," O'Mahony says. "But again every player goes out into the public.

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"On your day off you meet someone for a coffee . . . if it's in the community we've got to be very careful, everybody has got to be very careful.

"And guys have got to understand that for us to get back, we have to be incredibly diligent with regard to what we're doing outside of it - as much as any person in the country or in the world at the moment.

"People have to understand how diligent they have to be to try and get rid of this.

"Particularly after last week we understand how important that is and will be going forward."

For now at least, O'Mahony and his team-mates are doing their best to keep their focus on a huge test against Leinster.

Their preparations may have been disrupted, but there will be no excuses come Saturday evening at an empty Aviva Stadium, which will pose its own challenges.

"I can't imagine it will be anywhere normal with regard to the atmosphere and that type of thing, it's going to be very strange," O'Mahony reflects.

"But I'm just glad we're back playing rugby, to be honest with you and whatever it takes to do that, we're prepared to combat it. Look, again, it's for both teams, both sides are going to have to deal with that aspect of it.

"It's going to be different but we're going to have to battle on with it."

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