Peter O’Mahony believes Ireland can be world beaters again

Whatever about his claims to a starting place in Ireland’s back row to face England this weekend, Peter O’Mahony insists Joe Schmidt’s squad are just a few percentage points away from being the world beaters they looked like just four months ago.
Peter O’Mahony believes Ireland can be world beaters again

Defeats in the 2017 RBS 6 Nations to Scotland and, last Friday, Wales, have taken the shine off last November’s epic wins over New Zealand and Australia but as Ireland prepare for the visit of Grand Slam-chasing England, O’Mahony believes the belief remains within the camp that regaining the magic is not beyond them and that makes sticking to the process which served them well in the past is a matter of common sense.

“It isn’t really (hard to commit to the process), you just go through what we’ve been through and what we’ve done,” O’Mahony said.

“We’ve won championships and I can tell you our plan hasn’t changed a huge amount since those couple of years ago.

“We beat Australia a few months ago. We beat the All Blacks. It’s not that far away. It can’t be that far away. Guys know that. It’s the little things at the weekend (against Wales) that let us down.

"Guys have the solutions. You have the solutions within you. You’ve just got to drag it out.”

Despite craving a starting place himself, O’Mahony rejected the current clamour for wholesale changes, to either the team or gameplan.

“You can’t do that...guys will always buy in because you are playing alongside guys who matter a huge amount to you and who you’ve been through a huge amount with.

"You can’t — just because you’ve lost two games or because of the Wales game — throw the toys out, say this or that or we need to change this or that, If anything, you’ve got to pull it in tighter and drive on.”

The Munster captain was on his way back from injury then and forced to watch from afar last November as Ireland beat the All Blacks for the first time in history and then completed a calendar-year sweep of wins against the Southern Hemisphere trinity of New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa.

Now back in the Ireland squad, he was further hindered by a hamstring strain which kept him out of the first two rounds of the RBS 6 Nations.

Returning as a replacement in both the win over France and last Friday’s loss in Wales, O’Mahony is being tipped for a return to the Irish back row in the wake of the disappointing 22-9 reverse in Cardiff as Schmidt’s men seek to avoid a third defeat in this year’s championship.

That they will have to beat a now rampant England to do so this weekend makes the task much more difficult with the back rower very respectful of their 18 consecutive wins, the 61-21 hammering of Scotland last week equalling the All Blacks’ world record for a tier-one nation.

“They have to be up there (with New Zealand). They are going for 19 games in a row. They’ve gone to Australia, won three out of three.

“There have been sides that have been able to put pressure on them but they’ve come out on the other side of games they’ve been really tested in.

“It is very hard to argue with the fact they are up there competing with New Zealand for the top slot of the best team in the world.

“I think it is very hard to pick out a weakness in their team. Obviously we will do our homework on what we can do and we might be able to manipulate a couple of things but they are certainly a difficult side to find weak links in.

“They are a tough team to analyse, to get a way in is going to be a tough challenge for us.”

Yet O’Mahony insisted Ireland have confidence they can beat England this Saturday at the Aviva.

“I was just making the comparison that four months ago we would be having a different conversation here (after the New Zealand win). It’s not a completely different group or we haven’t changed the game plan in any way.

“We certainly took confidence out of it into the Six Nations. But, that’s a long way past now.

“We know how good we can be and how good we are.

“It is just we need to figure out a way to just finish that last per cent to get back there.”

***

RBS Six Nations

Ireland v England

Saturday: Aviva Stadium, 5pm

Referee: Jérôme Garcès (France)

TV: RTÉ Two, ITV

Bet: Ireland 7/5 England 8/13 Draw 17/1

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