Peter O’Mahony says Wales red card cannot diminish physicality of his game

Keith Earls says glitch in communication is costing Ireland ahead of England clash

Peter O’Mahony pictured at Munster rugby squad training,  at UL. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Peter O’Mahony pictured at Munster rugby squad training, at UL. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

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Peter O’Mahony and Keith Earls both paid warm tributes to their Munster and Ireland team-mate CJ Stander on Tuesday, before engaging in a slightly wider-ranging conversation where the topics included the flanker’s sending off against Wales and the Limerick-born wing’s hopes for more creativity and cohesion in Ireland’s back play.

The two were paying tribute to Stander following his announcement that he plans to retire at the end of the season.

O’Mahony has now served his three-match suspension following his red card against Wales and is eligible for selection ahead of Saturday’s Six Nations game against England at the Aviva Stadium. He’s had plenty of time to consider his actions, some of which he spent training with the Munster A-team and also helping to prepare the province’s senior team for recent Pro14 matches.

It proved a welcome distraction, but could not adequately compensate for playing matches. O’Mahony admitted: “It’s been hard. It’s different [from] when you’re injured; when you’re fit and healthy and raring to go but can’t, it’s a bit tougher. I’m not making any bones about it, I’m looking forward to getting back playing.”

He accepted that the red card for his attempted clearout on Welsh prop Tom Francis was merited, but pointed out that it can’t diminish or curtail the physical edge he brings to the game. “When it comes to the breakdown and it comes to international rugby, you have to be incredibly urgent, you’ve got to be incredibly accurate and you’ve got to bring physicality.

“You know, I’ve always played hard, I’ve always played fairly in my opinion. Look, I 100 per cent was in the wrong with what happened, but I think my team-mates know better than anyone that I was acting with the best intentions for the team and unfortunately that’s what happened.

“I don’t think they’ll be looking for me to put in a different performance than I would any other week that I play for Ireland. That would be unjust to the jersey. I go out every time to play as best as I can and I think the lads around me know that,” he said.

Beating England

Meanwhile, as far as the specifics of beating England on Saturday, Earls is hoping that the Irish backs can bring a greater cutting edge and fluency when opportunities present themselves. The Munster wing highlighted a glitch in communication that has undermined ambition.

“Our communication is [letting] us down a small bit. It is about us getting on the same wavelength. There are times when there are two or three of us calling different calls.

“They are all the right decisions, but it is just about someone owning it and I suppose taking the pressure off Johnny [Sexton], our 10s and our nines really. Everyone has to become a playmaker and decision-maker. We are hesitant in execution because communication isn’t great,” he said.

France enjoyed success on the edges against England, but Earls expects Eddie Jones’s team to have fixed those weaknesses in time for Dublin. He’s happy to take the space wherever it is, hoping no doubt that his primary role won’t be to chase box-kicks – a role he discharged excellently against Scotland – and that he can make a greater impression with ball in hand.

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