Peter O'Mahony insists Six Nations title not beyond Ireland

A defiant Peter O'Mahony insists that another Six Nations title is not beyond Ireland.

Peter O'Mahony insists Six Nations title not beyond Ireland

A defiant Peter O'Mahony insists that another Six Nations title is not beyond Ireland.

The current holders saw their bid to bank a back-to-back Grand Slam campaign blown out of the water by a sensational English side at the Aviva Stadium last Saturday, the concession of a four-try bonus point and failure to earn a losing one of their own adding to the collateral damage.

It was O'Mahony's turn to front up to the media at the team's base in Kildare on Monday lunchtime and, while he paused time and again to deliver thoughtful answers, his offering when asked about whether title ambitions were still viable was quick and to the point.

“Absolutely,” he replied.

Prospects of getting the campaign back on track won't be improved by the injuries absorbed in the course of that defeat to the auld enemy with CJ Stander the most glaring casualty having suffered what was labelled by the IRFU as a “facial” injury early on two days ago.

Stander's brother-in-law was more comprehensive in a tweet after the match however, suggesting at the time that the Munster man had played for over 60 minutes of the tournament opener with fractures to his cheek and his eye socket.

Ireland say he will be out of action for “up to four weeks”, which would rule him out of this weekend's visit to Edinburgh where a confident Scotland await, and the third round trip to Rome at the end of February for the tie with Italy.

“CJ is a big boy now, he is well able,” said O'Mahony. “As you saw, it was a sore one but he will rest up now for a few weeks and hopefully we'll have him back in a couple of weeks, depending on a couple of factors, I suppose. That's the job we're in, unfortunately.”

Keith Earls, who suffered a hip pointer injury in that first-half against England, is to be managed through the early part of this week. Devin Toner aggravated an ankle injury while Garry Ringrose reported a tight hamstring. Both of those are being assessed by the medics.

Andrew Conway, who played no part against England, is reported to have experienced some tightness in his calf in training last Thursday and he is continuing his rehab back in the Munster fold for now. No players have been added to the squad for now.

There won't be any panic, O'Mahony insists who took exception to the theory that Ireland had lacked something in motivation against an England side stewing since last March's heavy Twickenham defeat to the Irish.

“No, I don't think so. For me, England at home says enough in itself so I don't think we weren't motivated to go and win at home. No, that doesn't sit well with me. I think rugby-wise we were beaten. We were beaten by a better rugby team at the weekend.”

England excelled and Ireland didn't, he reasoned. These things happen. There will be the usual “learnings” and determination to right those wrongs on the training paddock as the week wears on but the Munster skipper didn't deny that this rare loss still smarts.

“Yeah, a hundred per cent. We're hurting. The Aviva is a place where we haven't lost in a while. You never like losing, no matter if you are playing for Ireland or your club, but particularly at the Aviva which is somewhere we have made a fortress. Certainly that hurts.

“The beauty of our job is that, bar the last game of a campaign, you can get back out if you are given a shot, work hard and train hard during the week for the opportunity to put that right. I'm certainly not going to sit here and say it didn't hurt.

“It did, but we can't be sitting around here feeling sorry for ourselves. We've got to take our review on the chin dust ourselves off and try and get back into the week. There's a lot of rugby to be played between now and the end of the campaign.”

Pauses were peppered throughout the conversation here, words and their import measured for effect and tested for any possible explosive properties with the utmost care before he spoke. It was in that light that the suggestion that Ireland were now “chasing” the championship was dismissed.

"If you go start chasing things, you can fall,” he said.

Maybe but Ireland are certainly leaning on the bar and ordering a 'sarsparilla' from the last-chance saloon as they face a Scotland side spurred on by a clear upswing in fortunes and a convincing take-down of Italy at Murrayfield last weekend.

Cue O'Mahony, the straight-shooter, once again.

“You look at their two clubs, both going really well in Europe at the moment. We know how well their individuals can play, how well they can play as a team. We’re under no illusions how difficult it will be, but to be honest it’s a week for ourselves and us getting ourselves right in training.”

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