Peter O’Mahony says 2013 defeat will guard Ireland against complacency
Irish skipper ended up playing on wing in Rome loss that ended Declan Kidney era
Peter O’Mahony and Bundee Aki during the Ireland Captain’s Run at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
Peter O’Mahony has warned Ireland not to create any more Six Nations torment against Italy on Sunday to add to their haunting 2013 defeat in Rome.
Munster flanker O’Mahony admitted he still flinches at the spine-tingling 22-15 loss to the Italians six years ago – that cost Declan Kidney his job.
Ireland finished fifth in that Six Nations, with O’Mahony winding up on the wing in a chastening first championship loss to the Azzurri.
Fast forward six years and Ireland are ranked second in the world under Joe Schmidt’s exacting tutelage with O’Mahony standing in as skipper for the rested Rory Best for Sunday’s Stadio Olimpico encounter.
Asked if the 2013 defeat remains a stark reminder of what can go wrong in Rome, O’Mahony replied: “Yes it is; I remember doing media after that game, I got a shiver down my spine.
“You just don’t like losing, it doesn’t matter whether it’s in Rome or at home.
“There’s big days out there when you win things, but it’s funny, the days you lose are the days that stand out at times.
“It shouldn’t be the way, but that’s how it is. We’ll be looking for a big performance tomorrow.
“We understand how difficult it is every time you come to Rome, we know the physicality required.”
O’Mahony will win his 55th Ireland cap this weekend and will captain his country for the seventh time.
The 29-year-old led the British and Irish Lions in their first Test against New Zealand in 2017, and in revealing his pride at captaining his country he also underscored the subtle need to coax the officials in his side’s favour.
“It’s hugely special, an incredible honour, to captain Ireland,” said O’Mahony.
“I’ve been lucky enough to captain the team a couple of times before when the other lads were out, but to get a chance to captain the team in the Six Nations, it’s an incredible competition, one of the best in the world.
“It’s not about personal milestones, but it’s certainly special for me to be asked to lead the lads out tomorrow.
“It doesn’t change my week or what I do to be honest. It’s nice to be asked.
“There’s an incredible amount of history gone with Irish captains.
“And it’s a huge honour to play in itself, but being captain is just extra special.
“I won’t say anything differently, but it’s a nice honour.
“It’s hard not to single out lots of Irish captains as inspiration really.
“Obviously Rory’s been left at home, then even very recently there’s been Paul O’Connell and Brian O’Driscoll; I could name a list of guys I looked up to for a long time.
“We’ve built a huge leadership group now, so we depend on lots of guys not just one guy, and we’re relying on lots of guys to lead.
“It’s very important to be able to work well with the referees though.
“I think we’re lucky with the standard of refereeing that we have these days that a lot of guys will let it flow and there isn’t a huge amount of interaction needed a lot of the time.
“But when things need to be said or points need to be made, you need to have a good relationship with guys and that’s something I feel I have built up over the last few years, I suppose.”