MUNSTER supporters will be hoping Peter O’Mahony’s words yesterday won’t prove prophetic, when he philosophically accepted the serious shoulder damage that kept him out of the team’s challenge for Heineken Cup honours last season was all part of the professional game – before adding: "I don’t think it will be my last injury either".
Given the fearless way O’Mahony plays for Munster and Ireland, the danger of being sidelined is always there. However, staying out of the trenches would be anathema to the man.
“Even before I dislocated my shoulder against Toulouse, I knew I had to get both of them done,” he revealed at yesterday’s launch of the new adidas Munster Rugby alternate kit. “One was a long-term injury, then I did the other shoulder against England and aggravated the originally injured one against Scotland. So I was struggling with both. I was trying to nurse myself through the back end of the season but that didn’t work out.”
Some four months after the operations, hopefully that’s all behind O’Mahony who reports that everything is on track for an early autumn full of action.
“The surgery went according to plan and It’s great to back training”, he enthuses. “At the same time, double shoulder reconstruction surgery is a slow process. It’s going in the right direction and the medics are happy with the way it’s going and that’s all you can ask for I suppose.
“I’m going into my sixth week of pre-season work. As for playing matches again, I have a few goals in my head but I don’t think there’s any point in trying to tie me down to a date, although, hopefully, it will be some time in October. I would have to get some rugby under my belt before the autumn internationals so I’d need to be back a couple of weeks before that.
“And then, of course, I would have to prove my fitness and my form more importantly. It’s tight enough but it’s certainly achievable and I’m pushing hard for it.
” The World Cup is a bit away yet but the lead-in probably starts now and one of the benefits of the injury is that I’m going to get a great pre-season under my belt. I’m being well looked after, getting a lot of weights done, even though I may not be back to where I was beforehand, I’m certainly getting there.”
The back-row has invariably been one of the strongest areas of Irish teams for many years and that certainly hasn’t changed. Indeed, it’s tougher than ever to clinch a place with Sean O’Brien already recovered from the injury that spoiled his campaign last season.
“Yeah, it’s great to have everyone back fit”, O’Mahony declared. “If we’re looking to be competing in our own leagues, in Europe and at World Cup level, all the provincial teams and international team have to be as close to full complement as possible. O’Mahony’s absence against Toulon in the semi-final of the Heineken Cup in May certainly told heavily against his team’s chances.
Looking back now, he muses that “missing some big games for Munster was very frustrating but that’s part and parcel of professional rugby these days. It’s the time of the year you want to be involved. It’s the reason you play rugby. You dreamed as a young fella of playing for Munster on that kind of stage so it’s tough when you have to sit on the sideline. But you have to accept it and get on with it and I don’t think it’s going to be my last injury either.”
Munster now move on to a new event, the European Champions Cup, with the opposition promising to be tougher than anything even the Heineken Cup could throw up.
“The Heineken was a great competition and hopefully it will now lead on to another”, O’Mahony stated. “We’ve always prided ourselves on being competitive in Europe and that certainly won’t change. We’ll be looking to be there or thereabouts at the end of this one as we always have. I don’t think our mindset is going to change.”
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