O’Mahony firmly focused on European opener

Munster captain Peter O’Mahony says that it would be ‘ridiculous’ to look past their opening Champions Cup game of the season with the Ospreys. The province will also face European heavyweights Saracens and Racing 92 in their pool, but O’Mahony has his eyes firmly on Saturday’s opponents.

The back-row forward also added that the page turned quickly after a disappointing World Cup with Ireland and that he enjoyed his return to Munster action in their victory over Ulster. “It was an enjoyable week last week and a great buzz this week with European rugby.

“It’s purely about performing against Ospreys now. You take your eyes off one of these games, you the see the competition that’s going to be in the group. It would be ridiculous to look past this weekend. It’s such a difficult place to go and play. We have got to be hugely focused on this weekend and that’s what we are going to do.”

Guinness PRO14, Thomond Park, Limerick, Co. Limerick 9/11/2019 Munster vs Ulster Munster’s Peter O’Mahony Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Bryan Keane

Munster will be looking for a fast start to this season’s competition as they chase silverware yet again. The province has not tasted glory since the Magners League win in 2011. Things have changed considerably since the semi-final defeats in the Pro14 and Champions Cup, with Stephen Larkham and Graham Rowntree coming into the coaching set up.

With that in mind, O’Mahony feels that it’s far too early to gauge the level of improvement that Munster has made this season:

“We are only a few games in. We have changed a lot.”

“Obviously, Stephen has come in, Graham has come in. We have changed our squad up. We are always looking for that extra few percent, but that’s what all teams are doing every year. We have got to find that little bit more and I think that we have got things in place that will hopefully give us what we need.”

For Munster out-half, Tyler Bleyendaal, the beginning of the European campaign brings an extra dimension to training and everything that goes with it. Bleyendaal could deputise for JJ Hanrahan this weekend after the Kerryman injured his hamstring in the win over Ulster.

Munster Rugby Press Conference, UL, Limerick 12/11/2019 Tyler Bleyendaal Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Bryan Keane

“There is a nice energy, especially coming in on a Monday knowing it’s a European week. It’s exciting to get this competition underway again. We understand the challenges that await, but we are excited. We are going to need a good week of preparation, because we are under no illusion of the challenge that the Ospreys will present to us.”

“We are going to have to stick to what we do best, but since Steve (Larkham) has come in, he has added a few little strings to our bow. It’s going to be a massive test. There is going to be a lot of pressure. Can we implement our game plan onto them? Can we absorb pressure? And can we apply pressure? Hopefully, our game plan will be successful, but it’s going to take a lot of work.”

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