Ireland flanker Peter O’Mahony says he feels ready to make his mark at the end of the ‘biggest week’ of his career.
Peter O’Mahony missed last weekend’s 46-7 win over Italy with a hamstring strain but he returns to the Ireland starting line-up for what he terms a ‘cup final’ against France on Saturday (kick-off 6pm local time/5pm Irish time).
One of the star performers in this year’s Six Nations, O’Mahony admits that – with a title on the line – the build-up to the Paris clash has felt a little different.
“Yeah, of course it does,” he said. “You feel the pressure. We’re in, without a doubt, the biggest week of my career so far, so you’re certainly putting pressure on yourself.
“You feel it from outside factors but you try and put it to bed and try and turn it in your favour…try and use it as motivation.”
A win would all but guarantee Ireland a first Six Nations crown since 2009 and O’Mahony believes that there is a balance to be found in embracing the occasion and blocking it out of your mind.
“Since you were small you want to play in games like this, for trophies,” he admitted. “It’s why you play. The reason the game is so great is to compete for these kind of trophies and compete in these kind of games.
“Obviously that’s one take on it. The other take is the pressure side of it, which you try to stay away from and not talk about, or not listen to any of the talk about.”
Much of the discussion in advance of the France game has focused on Brian O’Driscoll’s last ever appearance in the green jersey. But while O’Mahony says that the squad would like to give the Leinster centre a fairytale send-off, it is not something that the players have been concentrating on.
“It would be great but I think everyone has enough to worry about with their own jobs,” explained the Munster captain.
“It’s such a big week for everyone. I think you have to just make sure that your house is right and that you’ve got all your detail nailed down.
“It is an important week for Brian obviously and it would great to finish off on a high for him but I’ve been worried about myself for the week – trying to get myself right – to be honest.”
The 24-year-old was unable to describe just how much it would mean for him to win a Six Nations championship, but he remembers what it was like the last time Ireland managed to do so against Wales five years ago.
He had just flown back from his own underage Six Nations match and took in the nail-biting last few minutes in the house of Ireland colleague Ian Madigan, who will be on the bench on Saturday evening.
“I remember I couldn’t watch for the last kick (from Stephen Jones). It meant so much to everyone and it was a great occasion. Yeah, you definitely remember where you were for that one.”