Peter O’Mahony appreciates it can often be more nerve wracking to watch rather than to play after being forced to retire because of injury during Saturday’s nail biting Guinness Pro 12 win for Munster over the Ospreys.
“Yeah, it was tough going”, the Munster captain said of the dramatic conclusion when the hosts almost had victory snatched from the grasp.
“I thought it wasn’t a knock-on to be honest with you. My heart sank. But obviously it clearly was a knock-on when they went back. However, my gut instinct was that it was a foot that rolled it. Thank God it wasn’t.
“I think we played some great rugby but we made it harder than we should. The Ospreys are a great side and we allowed them back in the game. These are things we cannot afford to do any more. We had a good look at ourselves over the past few days and hopefully it won’t happen this weekend.
“Obviously, there were a couple of silly decisions for their tries. They’re things we don’t need to draw on ourselves. We just need to tidy up on around our game plan and some of our moves, to be a little bit tighter and make some better decisions.”
Few would argue that Munster’s level of performance fell off quite appreciably after the captain’s departure against the Ospreys.
The news that he now believes he is close to full fitness gives the whole Munster squad a major boost with every expectation of a major contribution from the back-row trio of O’Mahony, CJ Stander and Paddy Butler who has proved a superb replacement for the injured Tommy O’Donnell.
“Yeah, I thought Paddy was quality at the weekend”, said O’Mahony as he quipped: “Obviously CJ is paying off the Sky Sports and T na G people to pick their man of the match.
“Seriously, though, Paddy was certainly up there as one of the best players on the pitch. He was everywhere and, look, it’s a shame he’s heading off but has to do what he has to do.”
Allowing a home bred talent like Butler to leave for Pau doesn’t sit easily with Munster fans who love the Tipperaryman for his commitment, bravery and footballing skills.
But they are more than happy with the contribution that South African CJ Stander continues to make, a view shared by the team captain: “CJ is hugely important to us”, O’Mahony agreed.
“He’s blossomed. He’s really bought into Munster and what Munster is all about and I’d say he’s more Munster than a lot of us in the changing room before games. He’s a really strong personality and he’s been unbelievable over the last season or two.
"His ball carrying is incredible. He’s not just a lump of a man either. He has lovely hands when he wants to use them and he’s a great footballer and hugely powerful.”
Peter O’Mahony and the entire Munster squad are trying as best they can to play down the fact that Paul O’Connell will be making his final appearance in a Munster shirt at the Kingspan.
“I think if you asked Paul, he would say it was a distraction but it is obviously a huge game for the club and that’s the way we are looking at it to be honest”, he declared. “Paul has been an unbelievable servant and I won’t get into the plaudits that he should get but it is a big game for the club.
“It is massively important for us to win a first trophy since 2011. We measure every year on how many trophies are in the cabinet.
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