Dublin, January 23, 2024, The Europe Today: Peter O’Mahony, the seasoned flanker, expressed gratitude for dismissing thoughts of retiring from Test rugby after Ireland’s World Cup quarter-final defeat, as he now holds the “greatest honour” of his career – the Irish captaincy.
Following Ireland’s gripping 28-24 loss to New Zealand in the World Cup quarter-final last October, speculation surrounded O’Mahony’s potential retirement, joining close friends Johnny Sexton and Keith Earls in stepping away from the green jersey. However, the 34-year-old Munster star will lead Ireland against 2022 title winners France in Marseille on February 2, marking a significant chapter as the new captain of the defending champions.
At the Six Nations launch in Dublin on Monday, O’Mahony reflected on the tough weeks post-World Cup and admitted to considering retirement, stating, “It was a tough few weeks after that (the quarter-final), but it wasn’t the right time to make any calls given the circumstances.”
A shoulder injury in November added to the uncertainty. However, Ireland’s head coach, Andy Farrell, changed the narrative when he offered O’Mahony the captain’s armband after Munster’s Champions Cup victory over Toulon earlier this month.
Reflecting on the phone call from Farrell, O’Mahony described it as a “pinch me moment” and emphasized the significance of leading Ireland for the entirety of the Six Nations tournament.
“To get a phone call like the one I got last week is a very special one, and I’m glad I got the opportunity to represent my country again,” O’Mahony expressed. “Family are proud; it’s the biggest honour of my career.”
In embracing the captaincy, O’Mahony acknowledged that leaving the jersey after the quarter-final loss wouldn’t have been the most pleasant way to conclude his international rugby journey. Now, with the captain’s armband and a renewed sense of purpose, O’Mahony eagerly anticipates leading Ireland in the upcoming challenges of the Six Nations.