Peter O’Mahony will resume the Ireland captaincy for the first time since November 2016 this morning, urging his team to pick up where they left off when beating England at Twickenham to clinch the Grand Slam.
Ireland’s first game since that stirring St Patrick’s Day triumph kicks off against Australia at Suncorp Stadium as the tourists bid to beat the Wallabies for the first time since 1979, with two further Tests against Michael Cheika’s side on successive Saturdays in Melbourne and Sydney.
While the Irish come in as favourites after their Six Nations sweep elevated them to number two in the world rankings, finding similar form after three training sessions and a long-haul flight from Dublin could make it unrealistic to think O’Mahony’s side can be as effective as they were during the championship.
“It’s challenging certainly,” the captain said yesterday.
“We’d eight or nine weeks of a build-up to that (England) game and that certainly stands to you. It’s a standard we’ve set, but it will be difficult.
“We spoke about it a couple of years ago, when we needed to talk about it, guys just need to kick into Irish-mode the day we arrive into the camp. That’s something that we pride ourselves on. It’s a challenge, but it’s something we’re striving to do.”
O’Mahony also backed fly-half Joey Carbery to take the huge opportunity handed to the 22-year-old when he starts the first Test.
Munster-bound Carbery has been given the reins by head coach Joe Schmidt, and though Ireland will have first-choice playmaker Johnny Sexton on the bench, O’Mahony has been impressed by the ease in which Carbery, capped 10 times since his November 2016 debut off the bench against New Zealand in Chicago, has taken control of training ahead of his 11th cap.
“It’s been great. He’s an incredible footballer, I don’t have to tell you that,” the Ireland skipper said of his future Munster clubmate. “He’s really grown into that leadership role.
“I suppose over the past two years he’s been getting better and better and he’s a big character in the squad, which you need from your 10.
“I think he’s growing all the time and it’s a huge opportunity for him [today].”
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