Belfast Telegraph

Rowntree reunion delights O'Mahony

All good: Peter O’Mahony is relishing return to Munster
All good: Peter O’Mahony is relishing return to Munster

By Cian Tracey

Ahead of Peter O'Mahony captaining the Lions for the first Test on the 2017 tour, Graham Rowntree heaped praise on a player who he had only just got to know.

Rugby round up Newsletter

Game previews, plus expert insights and exclusive commentary from the Belfast Telegraph sports team.

"I can't speak highly enough of the fella," Rowntree enthused.

It was clear that O'Mahony had made an immediate impression and it was easy to see why Rowntree appreciated how he handled himself.

Both men are cut from the same cloth in their old-school approach to the game, so you can imagine O'Mahony was pretty happy when he heard that he would get the chance to work with the Englishman again.

Munster do not have a home-grown coach on their staff for the first time, which concerns some supporters, but certainly from the players' point of view, they have seemingly welcomed an outside voice coming into the set-up and shaking things up.

Rowntree is a no-nonsense kind of character, and perhaps that is just what Munster needed to counteract the more calming influence of Johann van Graan and Stephen Larkham.

He has only been in the province a wet week following his commitments with Georgia at the World Cup, but like Larkham, Rowntree has already made an impression.

The likes of O'Mahony and CJ Stander, who were both on that Lions tour to New Zealand, will have spoken highly of Munster's new forwards coach before he arrived and that excitement has spread throughout the squad.

"I can see he is enjoying being here," O'Mahony said. "He is enjoying the group, he is enjoying the coaching staff. It's great for someone to come in from the outside, from a different club, different background, different experiences, so to enjoy what we are doing here is a good thing.

"Hopefully we can use all his knowledge and better the group."

That freshness within the group has helped ease the painful World Cup memories and given the level of new detail that has been introduced by Rowntree and Larkham, the returning international players have been pressed into action as they look to get up to speed on the different game plan ahead of their European Champions Cup opener against Ospreys this weekend.

"It's been great," O'Mahony enthused. "Getting back to the group, there is huge enjoyment. The lads did really well when we were away, which is great.

"There is massive competition, obviously since Stephen and 'Wig' (Rowntree) have come in.

"I have worked with Wig with the Lions. We had a great experience in New Zealand a couple of years ago. It's great to have someone of his experience and expertise. He's a great character.

"We have done some great training already. He has got some great ideas and likewise with Stephen."

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph