Peter O’Mahony: Historical series win has been a long time coming for Ireland

·4-min read
 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

Ireland flanker Peter O’Mahony says winning the series in New Zealand was not a result of a couple of weeks but an extended development period.

This past month Andy Farrell’s team became the first northern hemisphere team to win a series against the All Blacks in New Zealand.

Long-term development

O’Mahony insists it has been a long time for the team to learn and develop, but he was particularly impressed with the young players. They showed their talent and temperament through the historical series.

“It means a huge amount,” O’Mahony said. “It’s not just the four weeks of work, you know, it’s been 18 months, two years of graft and understanding and learning.

“We had the French away loss (in the Six Nations) and the learnings that we took from the first Test at Eden Park on this tour. I’m delighted for the lads that they got their reward for the hard work they put in, especially the young fellas.

“The last time I played a third Test was 10 years ago and we were beaten by 60 points and this is a different animal, a different team, the way they learn; the way they adapt. The young guys are the ones who are really driving it on for us and I think there were no better men last Saturday.”

Emotional balance

Ireland have been working hard to stay calm during games and build a positive response to moments in the game, and the flanker commended the leaders for their efforts to foster this environment.

“We’re trying to get away from the emotion side of it,” he explains. That will come with international rugby in terms of how much that means to you but it’s about how you deliver your performance and how calm you can be when everything is going mental around you.

“And in a third Test like that, a third Test series decider against the All Blacks away from home, it’s a mad environment and how cool can you be in those scenarios.

“That’s where we’ve got to, we can be calm, you know, after half-time when we concede three tries you come into a circle of people who are looking across to leaders, looking for information to see what we’re doing from the kick-off or how we’ve got to fix things rather than panic, looking up at the screen. That’s the difference.

“It’s about being in the moment and the boys, not only did we take what they had, which they’re always going to have their purple patch but we got back into the game. We clawed our way back, penalties. There was no-one getting uneasy, everyone stuck to the system.”

O’Mahony is grateful to be part of this Irish group and believes there is a strong togetherness throughout the squad. However, the critical focal point for the group is that no matter where a player is situated in the squad the goal is to continue improving.

“It’s no different. For me, whether you’re wearing 20 or six or 17 or one, to be amongst this group of people is special,” he added.

“People who never experience it, the environment is special and the coaching team has given us a great platform to play off. As well as that, the buzz and the craic that we have together different gravy and that’s why you want to get in.

“You’re learning all the time, which is a great environment to be in and an enjoyable place to be.

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re in the leadership group and you’ve 80-odd Tests, 110 Tests whatever Johnny has, you’re constantly sharpening the knife, constantly getting better, constantly adding new little things to your game that can make a difference.”

World Cup ambition

Ireland is building toward the 2023 Rugby World Cup but knows they will have to work hard to be in the right space going into the showpiece event.

“You can’t predict the future but the group of players we have built – mixed with a few of the older lads – they are all incredibly hungry,” said O’Mahony.

“We are building towards the World Cup. We are not going to say it isn’t the goal. This tour was a great test for us – two Maori games, three Tests, a bit of chaos.

“Guys had to double up which is the kind of thing you need to do in a World Cup. We have to prepare for that. Things went well (in New Zealand) but you have to bank that and move on.”

READ MORE: Andy Farrell: Ireland head coach ‘regarded very highly’ by England as chief executive Bill Sweeney discusses Eddie Jones’ successor

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