Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 July 2014

O'Mahony aims to repay fans

Cian Healy refuses to call New Zealand the All Blacks.

Peter O'Mahony admits Ireland's underperforming stars must prove how much international rugby means to them against New Zealand on Sunday.

The Munster captain has conceded Ireland owe it to their supporters to right the wrongs from last weekend's 32-15 defeat Australia when they take on the All Blacks.

Ireland will close their Guinness Series autumn schedule on Sunday, gunning to deny New Zealand their 14th consecutive victory of 2013 and the perfect season.

Loose forward O'Mahony said it is all very well Joe Schmidt's men being passionate within the squad - but now they must show it to the public too.

He said: "We need to have a bit of that fire and intensity for ourselves.

"The fans, we haven't given them anything back for their support.

"I want them to see how much it means to us to play in an Irish jersey.

"I want them to see the whites in our eyes on Sunday, see our desire - that's important to us.

"We had an honest meeting on Monday where a good load of things were brought to light.

"People put their hands up and we put it to bed.

"We were a bit passive, and as an eight at home, that's the last thing we wanted to see.

"It's the biggest game of the year for us, finishing off the November series.

"And after last week we didn't do the jersey justice."

Admitting huge frustrations in Ireland's failure to transfer their training-field progress to the Wallabies contest, O'Mahony said Schmidt's side must not get caught up in the myths that encircle New Zealand.

He said: "We must have a performance to be proud of, and that shows how hungry we are to play for Ireland.

"It's frustrating because we've put some great work in, so for it not to come to fruition, we can't blame anyone but ourselves.

"It's so frustrating we're not showing everyone how good we can be.

"They are not machines, they make mistakes when they are under pressure.

"If you get your detail and intensity right, then you can put pressure on them."

Jonathan Sexton will start at fly-half against New Zealand despite suffering a hamstring strain and being withdrawn at half time in the four-try Australia defeat.

Ireland's assistant coach Les Kiss rejected any suggestion starting the Racing Metro playmaker will be a risk this weekend.

Joe Schmidt admitted he would have selected Ulster's Paddy Jackson to start had Sexton failed in his fitness bid.

But with Sexton fit, Schmidt has handed Ian Madigan the understudy role from the bench, drawing on the Leinster pivot's ability to play at centre and full-back too.

Kiss said both fly-haves in Ireland's squad are ready to take on the reigning world champions.

He said: "Jonny looks fine, he was tight at half time last week

"We expect 80 minutes from him, and he expects 80 minutes from himself.

"Ian Madigan's been with us for the last three weeks, nearly four now, and he's ready.

"So I've got absolute faith he'll do a job for us if called into action from the bench."

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