Jake O'Donnell
Jake O'Donnell

20:11 17 Feb 2020


With Ireland facing England in Twickenham this Sunday, it is yet to be seen whether Caelan Doris will return to Andy Farrell's starting XV at the expense of Peter O'Mahony. 

Doris got the nod in Ireland's opening Six Nations match against Scotland but a head injury saw him ruled out of the following week's clash against Wales.

That injury saw CJ Stander revert to 8 with O'Mahony starting at 6 for the visit of Wayne Pivac's side. However, if Doris is included on Sunday, O'Mahony is all but certain to start amongst the substitutes again with Stander's form making him irreplaceable.

Speaking on Monday Night Rugby, Keith Wood made the case for O'Mahony's involvement, arguing that he brings a lot more to Ireland than his recent stats suggest.

"I think statistics tell a huge amount but don't tell the whole story and I would say that he's an emotional heartbeat.

"You have to remember that rugby and sport is emotional. Rugby, in particular, is emotional and you need people who are able to get to a certain pitch and he is."

The 30-year-old veteran has come in for some criticism following the disappointing World Cup but Wood believes the Munster player still has the ability to affect a big game when it's needed most.

"I've read some of the critiques that say, 'If you're looking for a guy who wants to growl and look mean, he's the man.' That's definitely meant as a negative, but his effectiveness at times is essential and I don't think he wastes too much time and effort.

Drawing the comparison with Jamie Heaslip's changing influence for Ireland as he aged, Wood explained: "His stats kind of changed and moved into a different type of thing, but O'Mahony is a total nuisance. He's a pain in the neck for the opposition all the time."

However, put to him that O'Mahony has been guilty of drifting out of games, the former Ireland hooker admitted he has looked tired on occasion.

"I really think some of these guys need a bit of a break and we need to manage them well, I do. But, in this instance for why you should pick him, is his vertical jump is amazing both on our ball and on opposition ball so it's much easier to be lifted.

"His reading of that is fantastic, he's in the right place at the right time."

Passion

Wood also explained his belief that O'Mahony's stature as a leader in the team was important as an example for young players, especially those in Leinster who don't play with him on a weekly basis.

"I think he's really good for some of the young Leinster guys to see a very different type of animal.

"It's good to be able to see there's a hunger there and that's not to say that they don't have hunger and don't have passion – of course, they have – but maybe he has managed to use that as one of his skillsets far more than they have had.

"That is just really important, that is why I always say you are always looking for a blend [at international level]."

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English Rugby IRFU Irish Rugby Peter O'Mahony Six Nations Twickenham

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