‘We can’t get around to every Munster fan to say thank you, but we’d love to’ — Peter O’Mahony

YOU DON’T RATTLE Peter O’Mahony easily. But if you know the buttons to push you just might see him flinch.

In the week of a big game, the Munster captain has a stony-faced concentration about him. And so the gathered media, who love to talk about pressure, pain and all that kind of nonsense, get rebuffed with a simple ‘get on with it’.

With three of Ireland’s four TV broadcasters on top of the rights holders from across the water, all ready to put the spotlight on the blindside one remark does manage to shake his game-face off.

‘What’s up with your hair, Pete?’

‘What the…?’

There was nothing untoward up with his hair. Back to the serious business of beating Saracens and extending the Munster interest in this remodelled competition deep in to 2015.

“It’s cup rugby come Saturday. It’s win or bust, cup rugby, there’s nothing goes past Saturday,” says the captain.

“They were an important few weeks in the Pro12, but it was always there in the back of our minds to be preparing – we trained on the 3G [pitch in UL] a few times, getting ready for it. It’s a big week for the club certainly.”

That artificial surface is a big talking point for some players and coaches within the Munster camp. However, as a man who can cover the ground efficiently and isn’t expecting to kick the ball, O’Mahony tallies the impact of the surface on his gameplan to a nice round figure, “Zero”.

What will have a say in the outcome is his performance, and how he matches up with the Saracens back row. A game that doesn’t count the breakdown as a deciding factor is an extreme rarity (if it even exists), but on a hard surface that promises a clean dry ball, the tackle area will be 9/10s of the law.

“It’s such a cliché, but we’ve got to get go-forward ball,” says the 25-year-old captain in that trademark matter-of-fact way of his.

In Munster Rugby ‘everyone’ means absolutely everyone, not just the men on the pitch or with dressing room access. Munster aren’t better when they’re bitter, they’re better when in complete harmony with their supporters.

So as the playing staff sets about ransacking Saracens’ latest attempt at European glory, it’s curious that the hosts have generously added grist to the mill for away fans by inserting cunning obstacles in the way of non-sanctioned ticket sales. Obstacles like suspicious treatment of people with an Irish accent calling looking for tickets.

“You can be fairly sure they’ve been putting on fake English accents to get them,” smiles O’Mahony at the thought of some red-shirted hybrid between Dick van Dyke and Fonejacker.

“It’s unbelievable. I don’t know how they get the tickets, but they show up for us every time. We can’t get around to everyone to say thank you, but we’d love to. It’s hugely important for us and we’ve no doubt they’ll be there on Saturday.”

O’Mahony won’t be letting his hair, or anyone else, down any time soon.

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