Six Nations 2020: Peter O'Mahony relishing Ireland's back row battle

Peter O'Mahony
O'Mahony created Ireland's sixth try against Italy with a brilliant one-handed offload

Ireland flanker Peter O'Mahony says the competition for starting places in the back row is something he has faced over his entire 68-cap international career.

Munster's O'Mahony came off the bench in Ireland's win over Italy on Saturday with flankers Will Connors and Caelan Doris impressing as they won their first and second caps respectively.

The back row is arguably now Ireland's strongest area in terms of depth.

"You've a battle on your hands every week," said O'Mahony.

The flanker, whose 15 minute contribution against Italy included a wonderful offload to create Bundee Aki's second-half try, added: "I've had 68 battles every week.

"I've played for Ireland, I've worked as hard as I physically could to get a jersey whether it was on the bench or whether it was starting."

"There's nothing taken for granted, there's nothing given in these circles."

Having dispatched Italy with ease, Ireland now have the opportunity to win the Six Nations at the Stade de France as they did in 2014, a game in which O'Mahony started.

Currently top of the table by a single point, Ireland would secure the championship with a bonus-point win. A four-point win would bring points different into play, assuming England claim a maximum points victory over Italy.

Andy Farrell will name his Ireland side on Wednesday, and there will again be considerable interest over back row selection, with Doris and Connors' impressive displays last weekend meaning the omission of either would be a sizeable talking point.

"When I first started you look at the back row that was there and every single weekend you look at the back rows when I was involved with, and now the back row at the moment, it's never been anything but probably the most competitive position on the pitch," O'Mahony said.

"I have to say I'm hugely enjoying it and learning from it."

Caelan Doris, 22, started at blindside flanker to win his second Ireland cap

Winning in France 'a different animal'

O'Mahony has won twice with Ireland in France, in 2014 and 2018, and on both occasion Ireland have gone on to lift the Six Nations trophy.

After a desperately disappointing 2019, bouncing back to lift this year's title would be a considerable feather in the cap for head coach Farrell in his first year at the helm.

"To win in France is a different animal to lots of these games and we understand the challenges ahead," said O'Mahony.

"Weeks like this don't come around very often and it's important to enjoy them, but it's important to understand what it takes to win a Championship.

"It's cup final week, you don't need any more motivation than that."

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