Appearances off the bench have been few and far between across Peter O’Mahony’s eight seasons playing for Ireland.
He ended his first campaign at Test level starting a summer Test against New Zealand, at the age of just 22.
There was a 20-minute cameo against Samoa in Fukuoka at the last World Cup but it’s three years since he last played understudy for a ‘big’ game.
That comes to 24 appearances straight where he had been at the forefront of Joe Schmidt’s plans.
And then Andy Farrell started him on the bench last week.
The Munster back row’s form has been picked over and analysed under the most penetrating of microscopes in the last year so his storming performance when replacing Caelan Doris after only four minutes last weekend stood up strongly to all scrutiny.
“He was bleeding a lot,” said head coach Andy Farrell yesterday. “He got a smack on the back of the neck after a brilliant turnover. I thought, Pete, was a warrior out there. Yeah, hopefully he’ll bring more of the same at the weekend.”
Ronan O’Gara, who lined out alongside a much younger O’Mahony for Munster and Ireland at the end of his own playing days, is a self-declared fan of the back row. A fit and hungry O’Mahony would play every time in O’Gara’s team.
The La Rochelle coach has said as much to O’Mahony himself but he has also challenged the 30-year old former British and Irish Lions captain to show he is an 80-minute player and to do that on a weekly basis.
“He’s come up with big moments in big games, but his goal has to be to do that consistently, to repeat efforts. He’s experienced, he’s respected, but he needs to do that consistently. I thought last week was a good start, I think there’s another gear in him, but like that it’s about...
“Like, CJ [Stander] is completely different to Peter in his personality, in his game, in everything. It’s about knowing which buttons to push and so much of it is probably having him in a competitive mindset. He has to be confident.
Peter is a guy who likes a pat on the back. He’d probably struggle with not feeling the confidence. I don’t know does he feel that, this is my guestimation on it.