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Friday 15 December 2017

'We'll do our talking against England on the pitch,' says Peter O'Mahony

Ireland's Peter O'Mahony during a press conference
Ireland's Peter O'Mahony during a press conference

SSHH! Say nothing. Or as close to nothing as doesn't make a matter.

That was the clear and present ploy of Team Ireland as Peter O'Mahony was wheeled out to let the waiting media know ... little or nothing.

The party political line is a strong one, orchestrated from above. The mantra is simple.

Give nothing away, not a column inch that can be pasted to England's dressing-room wall come Sunday.

While this is a journalist's working nightmare, it is also an understandable approach in light of Ireland's current well-being.

HUNTING

They are hunting a record-equaling tenth straight victory in the international arena.

The business of selling newspapers is not their business.

They are in the business of selling tickets through winning. And they have been doing this well for a sold-out contest.

The last time Ireland were beaten was this time last year at Twickenham in a game they could have drawn or even won. There was nothing in it, but three points.

"We're not a backward looking team," said O'Mahony.

"When you do lose, there are always things you could do better. You never play a perfect game. It doesn't matter whether you win or you lose.

"That was probably what was coming out at the time.

"We don't look back. We look forward to Sunday. We're looking forward to the process of training well and hard during the week."

O'Mahony would have us believe England at home is no different to Italy or Scotland and that his coach Joe Schmidt has nothing up his sleeve.

"You've seen our game-plan. We're not going to change the wheel because it's England.

"It's another game in the Six Nations for us. And that's it."

This is all part of the game before the game and Ireland have chosen to play it sweet.

Say nothing. And nothing can be made of it.

All the good will in the world won't change the fact that Ireland will have to deal with a monster similar to that of France.

It is true. The bigger they are, the harder they fall. The harder they hit too.

"I think we've come up against two hugely physical teams and the reason we've won both of them is because we've matched them and gone beyond them. For me, that's the reason we've won the two games," said O'Mahony.

What about England? What makes them different?

"They are hugely well organised. As a result, they are quite hard to stop. We're going to have to be 100 per cent with regard to out D (defence).

"You back up their hugely impressive organisation with their physicality. It's a mix that's hard to stop."

The entertainment value may be down in this year's Six Nations. But, the drama value has not diminished.

The fierceness of the battle brings with it a gladiatorial excitement, as bodies smash into each other in a war of wills.

Afterall, this is a collision sport first and foremost. Even the magic makers would not deny you have to earn the right to go wide.

It is easier to destroy than create in everyday life. Rugby is no different. The defensive gurus have taken away time and space. Les Kiss. Andy Farrell too.

"Yeah I think defences have become very good," offered Ireland's flanker.

"You look at teams in the Six Nations and there's a huge amount of linespeed there. It's quite difficult to break teams down the middle now.

"I think a lot of it has become analysis-based and trying to find little glitches in what are hugely good defences.

"It's probably right in some ways, it's probably the way the game has gone alright."

Just when you think there is nothing more to this than the crash 'em, bash 'em mentality, a chink of light opens up.

Surely, there is more to come from Ireland's attack. There are skilled operators all the way from nine to fifteen.

Is the threat really there? "Yeah 100 per cent. We have quality rugby players, quality footballers so there's plenty of potential there, we just need to unlock it."

Sshh! Say nothing.

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