Ireland's big selection poser
SIX NATIONS SPOTLIGHT: Ireland flank Peter O’Mahony said it will be business as usual while he tries to secure his place in the starting side for this weekend’s potential title-decider away to France.
The Munster back row forward made his presence felt barely 90 seconds after coming on as a second-half replacement for Caelan Doris against Italy in Dublin last Saturday, when his excellent underhand pass set up Bundee Aki for Ireland’s sixth try in a 50-17 rout of the Azzurri.
It was a fine way for the 31-year-old O’Mahony to mark his 68th appearance in the green shirt.
But such is the competition for back row places in Andy Farrell’s side there is no guarantee that O’Mahony will be in the starting lineup when Ireland go in search of a bonus-point win at the Stade de France on Saturday to secure a fourth Six Nations title in six years.
“You have a battle on your hands every week,” O’Mahony told a press conference.
“I’ve had 68 battles. I’ve worked as hard as I could to get a jersey, whether on the bench or starting. There’s nothing taken for granted.
“The back row has never been anything but the most competitive position on the pitch. We’re in a battle every week to get a jersey. I’m hugely enjoying it and learning from it.”
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Farrell picked Munster No.8 CJ Stander, Leinster’s blindside flank Doris as well as eventual man of the match Will Connors as his run-on loose forward trio for the victory in Dublin.
“The performance of the starting back row on Saturday was second to none and from a team point of view you couldn’t be prouder of the way the team worked and particularly the back row.
“Do I deserve to start? I suppose you’d have to ask the coaches, it doesn’t matter what I think.”
Ireland, in a three-way title battle with Les Bleus and England, travel to Paris knowing if they win with four tries or more they will be crowned champions regardless of how Eddie Jones’ men get on in Rome.
“It’s a different animal going to Stade France on Saturday and competing for a Six Nations title, we know we are going to have to be better than last Saturday,” said O’Mahony.
“It’s cup final week, you don’t need any more motivation than to be winning trophies with your national team. To win in France is a different animal to lots of these games but we understand the challenges ahead.”