Performance 'paramount', Ireland skipper O'Mahony says ahead of France test

rugby01 February 2024 12:00| © AFP
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Peter O'Mahony @ Getty Images

Newly-installed Ireland skipper Peter O'Mahony says performance will be "paramount" when his team takes on France in the "colossal" opening test of the 2024 Six Nations in Marseille on Friday.

Both Ireland and France are on the rebound from quarterfinal exits at the Rugby World Cup, but O'Mahony insisted thoughts were on what lay ahead rather than constantly looking in the back mirror.

"Performance is paramount. For every test match. We're not trying to prove a point to ourselves about what happened," said O'Mahony, who was part of the Ireland team beaten in the last-eight by New Zealand.

"We're trying to prove to ourselves in performance, where the scene is at, where we want to go, setting up momentum.

"It's not about putting things right or whatever. It's about a test match tomorrow night. That's what the occasion is, it's the most important thing for us.

"And performance is absolutely paramount. That's what everyone is here to do, be the best version of themselves. That's what we're trying to do for Ireland."

The 34-year-old Munster flanker said an opening match against a strong France team was "very exciting".

"Every opportunity you get to play for Ireland is huge, but this one seems particularly special... to continue our journey on.

"What a place to do it, what a stadium... what a place to play rugby!"


O'Mahony also played down talk that the clash could well serve as a title decider between arguably the two strongest teams in the tournament.

"I don't know about that. It's the first one up for us, first one up for them. In this competition, every game is colossal and that's an understatement.

"Both of us are out there tomorrow to win the game, set ourselves up with some momentum for the rest of the campaign."

Ireland coach Andy Farrell named O'Mahony skipper after stalwart fly-half johnny Sexton retired from the game, and the flanker said he and his teammates had all learned from the Leinster legend.

"I had a good chat with him a few weeks ago and he's in good form, I can report!" O'Mahony said.

"I'd be shocked if you asked anybody in that dressing room who's played with Johnny if they hadn't picked up something from him.

"It's kind of what the game's about, it's learning and being diligent and picking stuff up from guys who've figured it out and he was certainly one of them."

Farrell hinted that the "gold standard" in performance was to be "more ruthless".

"The reality is that when you're playing against good sides like we are in France, it's not going to be perfect," he said.

"It's how we deal with our disappointment, because our expectations are high, etc and just getting on with what's in front of our face and not compounding errors."

France, Farrell added, threw up a real challenge across the park.

"Their setpiece has been good, the lineout especially. They've been ferocious on the ball because they've got good personnel on the floor as far as the breakdown's concerned," he said.

"The talent that they've got, not just as a collective backline but individually in broken field play, it's hard to stop if they get over the gainline and start playing the game they want to."