Fear of failure driving Munster, insists Peter O'Mahony
Levity is not something Peter O'Mahony generally brings to his media engagements, but even still the Munster skipper had his serious face on yesterday.
His voice barely rose above a quiet whisper as he looked forward to the task at hand this week with his side's European hopes intact, if just by a thread.
They gave themselves that hope with their late response in Clermont Auvergne, but now they must show more by going to north London and beating Saracens. Anything less will see them exit at the pool stage for just the second time since 1999/2000.
Drawn in one of the toughest pools ever to have come together in either the old Heineken Cup or the new incarnation, there are plenty of excuses but the captain is not entertaining them.
Faced with a win-or-bust scenario, victory is the only thing on his mind.
"The PRO12 is more competitive this season, but we would always judge ourselves on where we finish up in Europe," he said.
"Trophies are essentially where we judge ourselves. It is very similar for supporters as well, I would guess. It's a big week for us."
The last time Munster failed to make the knock-out stages in 2010/11, O'Mahony was still a fringe player who played most of his rugby with Cork Constitution in the All-Ireland League, but his lack of involvement didn't mean it didn't hurt.
"It is a heartbreaking feeling, certainly," he explained. "To be honest, I haven't thought about it up to now. I said it already, the fear factor is certainly a factor that will be there for everyone when we take the pitch on Saturday."
Asked whether Munster's history of success has a bearing this week, the captain said it was largely irrelevant for the squad.
"It does for supporters and yourself thinking about it, but for your processes during the week, getting yourself ready to put in a performance which is the most important thing, it is a non-factor, it is irrelevant," he said. "It is just about getting yourself right, about putting in a performance."