Despite not reaching his full potential at the Rugby World Cup so far, Alan Quinlan believes the inclusion of Peter O'Mahony may prove pivotal in shaping Ireland's physical exchanges with the All Blacks on Saturday morning.
One of the key performers throughout Joe Schmidt's tenure in charge of Ireland, Peter O'Mahony has yet to demonstrate his usual form at this year's World Cup.
A starter in the opening pool game against Scotland, the Munster man was removed from play in the first half with a suspected concussion. Although it was later confirmed that O'Mahony would be fit to face Japan one week later, Alan Quinlan had suggested that O'Mahony may be overlooked for this weekend's crucial clash with the All Blacks.
"At the start of the week, I was thinking more about Tadhg Beirne," admitted Quinlan of who he believed Schmidt may turn to. "He is such a dynamic ball-carrier and is a different type of player, but I think he would have certainly brought a lot."
Speaking live from Japan on Thursday morning, however, Schmidt confirmed that Peter O'Mahony would feature in his starting XV.
Describing the 30-year-old as an ideal player for the big moments, Quinlan, content that the omission of Beirne will not prove too problematic, highlighted the role O'Mahony can play in alleviating any potential Irish submission to New Zealand's physical prowess.
"He's a fantastic rugby player," he noted, "as tough as nails and one thing you need against the All Blacks is to be confrontational, aggressive, to be in their faces and stand up to them, and he will do that.
"I'm sure he'd admit it himself that he hasn't hit the ground running at this World Cup, and from a playing point of view he needs to do more, but they are your primary objectives: not to get bullied and be physical against them.
"He's not being selected because he's playing brilliantly, but I think it is a big vote of confidence from the coach."
Exploring the impact Peter O'Mahony may have on the performances of his teammates, Quinlan dismissed the notion that the remaining Irish starters will be concerning themselves with O'Mahony's mixed form.
"I think back to when I was a player and it doesn't really matter to the players around you if the player in question maybe isn't playing brilliantly at that moment," he explained. "You don't think about that, you just look across and see the character.
"You see the leadership, the body language and you feel the presence of the player. That is exactly what he will bring to this Irish team."
You can watch back Alan Quinlan's preview of Ireland's match with New Zealand here.