Munster captain Peter O’Mahony is desperate to get up to speed with his province after admitting he needs more game time following his return to action last weekend.
The Ireland back row made his first appearance on Saturday since dislocating his shoulder against Toulouse last April when he came off the Munster bench for 17 minutes in the Guinness Pro12 victory overLeinster at Aviva Stadium.
O’Mahony, 25, used the lengthy layoff to bring forward scheduledreconstructive surgery on his other shoulder and is now raring to hit top gear.
That, though, will take time and as he attended yesterday’s launch of the European Champions Cup in Dublin he said: “Probably need eight to 10 games and I will be [up to full match sharpness]. The lads have had two warm-up games. I don’t know [how many league games] we are into now, five. Some of the lads have seven games on me at this stage. [I’ll] probably be looking at eight full games to be back.”
O’Mahony will be in line for his first start this Friday at Thomond Park in the Pro12 clash with Scarlets, the final game before the European opener eight days later at Sale Sharks, and the Munster captain wants to be involved as much as possible regardless of the constraints centrally contracted players have placed on them by the IRFU player welfare programme.
“We are looked after by the IRFU and by the lads in Munster but the thing is I need to get game time now. I might be playing games I mightn’t have been in the last couple years but I need to get some game time now so that is paramount for me now.”
O’Mahony did not suffer any setbacks in his rehab but said he was unsure of his likely return to play for most of his recovery period.
“You can’t really set a game, it’s about physio and rehabbing as well as you can and when it’s starting to come right then maybe you talk about a return to play date. But up to three or four weeks ago I didn’t really know if it was going to be Scarlets or whether I was going to miss the European games. It was kind of touch and go but I was lucky. I just reacted very well.
“In fairness, the lads, the physios were working overtime with me and I’d have to say a big thanks for looking after me.”
O’Mahony reported no ill effects from his shift during the tail end of Munster’s win at Leinster other than the inevitable soreness and said he was “delighted to be back”, although headmitted he would have a difficult job breaking back into a competitive back row at the province.
“You’ve CJ [Stander], who’s been a wrecking ball for us over the last few weeks. He has this unbelievable ability to turn up two or three feet from the line and use his freak strength to power over. He’s a ridiculous amount of tries over the last two years as a result of it. So he’s hugely important to us.
“Tommy O’[Donnell] has come back with some great form. He’s been working hard and had an unbelievably good pre-season. He’s in great shape and playing very well for us.
“Robin [Copeland] has come in, an incredible athlete as well, he’s been great for us. He’s still learning his role a bit but he’s doing really well and I think he’s settling in nicely.
“Guys like Sean Dougall, who was injured, he’s played unbelievably well, a real groundhog seven for us., an out and out seven, so he’s in contention. Then you’ve got guys like Jack O’Donoghue who’s come on the scene recently and who’s an unbelievable prospect for us, an incredible athlete as well. I’ll have my work cut out over the next couple of weeks.
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