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REVEALED: What convinced O'Mahony not to retire

INTERVIEW: Peter O’Mahony is glad he dismissed thoughts about retiring from the international game after Ireland’s World Cup quarterfinal defeat as he has ended up with the “greatest honour” of his career, the Irish captaincy.

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Many thought the 34-year-old flank would join close friends Johnny Sexton and Keith Earls in hanging up the green jersey after the shattering 24-28 loss to New Zealand in a gripping last-eight clash in Paris last October.

Instead, he will lead out Ireland in Marseille on February 2 in as tough an opening clash as the new captain of the defending champions could have against 2022 title winners France.

The 101-times capped no-nonsense Munster star admitted he toyed with the idea of quitting and spending much more time on the other great love of his life – apart from his family – gardening.

“Yeah, it was, it certainly was,” he responded when asked if had he given serious thought about retiring at Monday’s Six Nations launch in Dublin.

“It was a tough few weeks after that [the quarterfinal], but it wasn’t the right time to make any calls given the circumstances.”

A shoulder injury against Leinster at the end of November deepened the gloom.

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However, all that was lifted in a flash when Ireland coach Andy Farrell rang him following Munster’s win over Toulon in the Champions Cup earlier this month to offer him the captain’s armband.

He had captained the Irish 10 times previously but this meant even more as it is for the entirety of the Six Nations tournament not just as a stand-in.

“To get a phone call like the one I got last week is a very special one and I’m glad I got the opportunity to represent my country again,” he said.

“It was a pinch-me moment.

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“Family are proud, it’s the biggest honour of my career.

“In hindsight, it wouldn’t have been the most pleasant way to leave the jersey where we did end up,” he added harking back to the quarter-final.

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‘Light up the room’

For Farrell, although there were several possibilities – second row forward James Ryan had for a long time been seen as the successor to Sexton – in the end it was a simple call to make.

“As far as natural fit and natural leaders and coming from what we’ve come from before with Johnny, he’s the type of leader that is the same,” said Farrell.

“In the sense that he’s just being himself and being your natural self is what they call being authentic these days, isn’t it, it’s very easy to follow.”

Farrell – whose World Cup disappointment was tempered slightly by being named world coach of the year – said O’Mahony was the type of person who radiated leadership.

“There are certain people that you walk into a room and they light up the room and make the room feel right,” said Farrell.

“It’s pretty important around the place, and certainly on match day that you have that type of person in the dressing room and Peter’s certainly one of those.”

One potential cloud on the horizon is that O’Mahony’s contract with Munster runs out at the end of the season and he was not keen to talk about the topic.

“This is always the time of year that this stuff comes around,” said O’Mahony.

“There’s been lots of talk about it the last couple of weeks so I’m looking to leave it at that.

“We have a whole Six Nations kicking off and I’m delighted to be talking about that and park that stuff.”

O’Mahony, who expects to be fit for the French match despite going off with a knock to the hip in last weekend’s Champions Cup match, said he had no idea how long he would go on now his career has been revived with the captaincy.

“For me, the fact that I’ve been picked as captain for the first time -– it’s very much short-term focus for me,” he said.

“I’ve done my talking on the pitch, that’s the way I’m going to keep it at the moment.”

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