Ireland Can Now Call Themselves Six Nations Contenders Again & Here’s Why

Ireland missed Johnny Sexton and Peter O’Mahony against Scotland and that’s a fact, not an observation.

We’re probably going to upset a lot of people when we say this, but Paddy Jackson is not Johnny Sexton and that’s just that. The Ulster playmaker didn’t have a bad game against Scotland, in fact he had a rather good one, but at the end of the day- there just isn’t a substitute for world class.

There’s a damn good reason Johnny Sexton is still expected to start for the Lions this summer, despite playing about four minutes of rugby this year. He’s world class, and one of the few players Ireland have that can call themselves that. If Ireland are to seriously challenge for the Six Nations, Sexton must play against France, Wales and England.

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Then there’s Peter O’Mahony. You can’t drop CJ Stander, you can’t drop O’Brien, you can’t drop Heaslip. We’ve heard it all before. Well you’re gonna have to drop someone, because a fit Peter O’Mahony starts, and it’s as simple as that really.

O’Mahony may not have played his way into the Ireland team back in November, but he was just back after a year out. The Munster captain was never going to be thrown back into starting at Test level that quick. O’Mahony however, has proven his fitness with the southern province in recent months, and boy is he back in form.

People forget that before O’Mahony got injured, he was probably Ireland’s best player- and there’s nothing stopping him from getting back to that level again in a green jersey. To be honest, had he not got injured, you can realistically say the Corkman would be Ireland’s captain right now, not Rory Best. That’s no insult to Rory Best, but Peter O’Mahony was born to captain Ireland.

This is why the most important question put to Joe Schmidt at today’s press conference was- will they both be fit for the France game? Thankfully we got the answer we were all hoping for.

“Yep. Yes, yes.” Schmidt said

If those two are fit and ready for Ireland’s last three games, then you can bet your ass they’ve still got a great shot at winning the Six Nations.