The Perfect Send-Off
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Flanker Peter O’Mahony says the emotion surrounding Brian O’Driscoll’s Ireland farewell will definitely not derail their Six Nations title bid.
Despite defeat to England last weekend, Ireland remain top of the table on points difference and play host to Italy on March 8 before an away game in France the following weekend.
And all-time great O’Driscoll will play his last international at home against the Italians, a match in which he will also break George Gregan’s world-record of 139 Test caps. However, O’Mahony said: “We are professional enough that it won’t affect us.
“It is obviously a big occasion for him and it would be great for him to finish his last Test in Ireland on a winning side but the rest of us now need to be a bit selfish – and him too.
“There is a job to be done at the weekend and he is more professional than anyone who has put on an Irish jersey, so I don’t think there is an issue there.”
The 35-year-old O’Driscoll made his Ireland debut in 1999 and O’Mahony says the centre is still a hugely influential performer.
“He was the first superstar of Irish rugby and always very exciting to watch,” said O’Mahony.
“You wouldn’t even have to go looking for him. You would see him on the TV screen so often, because he was carrying so much ball, breaking lines.
“He was probably a bit raw at the time. Video analysis wasn’t the same and defences weren’t the same so he was making big, long breaks and it was very impressive to watch.
“Not much has changed, really. Last weekend he was running over guys. He used to run around them, now he goes over the top of them.”
The 24-year-old O’Mahony has impressed himself during the 6 Nations campaign and added: “I think I am becoming more comfortable at the level.
“It took me a while. I probably wasn’t fit enough, probably 18 months ago, but I feel more comfortable with my game now.
“Physically, I feel much better as well.
“I have had time to develop and I have been very lucky to have some great strength and conditioning guys around me as well, who have taken care of me and held me together.”
Source: Sky Sports