Peter O’Mahony has been to the mountain top and now at twenty-eight years of age can prioritise his life’s future financial needs with his current IRFU contract approaching renewal. Having captained the Lions, his country, his province and club – and no doubt all his school teams - the time for further sacrifice now must be done in his name; that of his family and his own wishes. That appeal for Ireland can lose its value when the thirty-year mark begins to loom on the horizon. Or the fear that age could nibble away at the physicality of his game and make another contract with Ireland more challenging in future years. With most of last season spent in rehab O’Mahony has had plenty of time to evaluate his career with recent months. No doubt seeing Jamie Heaslip he will also know that injury is a player’s worst worry and at the wrong time can prove costly. Albeit Sean O’Brien has recovered and come good after a number of years in the wilderness.
At the IRFU matters are unambiguous about playing abroad these days. Even in those years where it was not stated policy players could see that national selection was a non-runner. None more so than Leo Cullen whose years at Leicester Tigers only earned him a total of three of his total of thirty- two International caps. Yet back at Leinster he was stalwart for Ireland in the second row. Not unlike his team mate Geordan Murphy who for a long time went unrecognised for Ireland despite being a regular terror for the Tigers in the Premiership. Out of sight was out of mind and a large chunk of Geordie’s caps subsequently came as a sub for international weekends.
But those have chosen to plough their furrow outside Ireland more recently have done so knowing the rule about no more Irish caps coming their way. So, Martin Moore and Ian Madigan gather experience abroad, but it is deemed of little value to the national set up. Joe Schmidt being the biggest advocate of the rule having seen the success it has brought the All Backs over recent decades. But not unlike Trevor Brennan, O’Mahony might move when his international career ambitions are less of a priority. Or knowing the inevitable waning in power and strength approaches as some the younger blood enters the national team squad.
Clearly, he knows that there will be no more caps playing in England or in France. But it may not matter anymore as his collection silverware is impressive from his days at Cork Constitution, to Munster and Ireland where there are two Six Nations titles, and will no doubt fill his sideboards abroad just as comfortably. With a better chance to grab a European Cup based somewhere in French territory rather than at Munster. Then having led the British and Irish Lions in the first test in July in Auckland he has also reached the pinnacle of personal achievement I the game.
So, his advisers at Horizon Sports will have helped deliver some attractive alternatives for the future for him to consider that could break the current status quo. It seems very logical that O’Mahony seek a career move as the IRFU structure doesn’t allow for much manoeuvre or ambiguity. Indeed, the only player to break those restrictions was Johnny Sexto and largely because his pay is proffered for the most part by Irish billionaire communications mogul Denis O’Brien. Which is rather unique in the Ireland international setup?
Peter O’Mahony is at the peak of his game and currently injury free. Therefore, it is the correct time to be engaging with clubs around Europe and test those playing opportunities. The vision of Ronan O’Gara would no doubt have enhanced the belief that leaving Ireland is a positive move for Irish rugby players. With Ronan’s progress in the coaching world now about to include Crusaders in New Zealand - following a couple of season in Paris with Racing 92 - proving no doubt inspirational for those at Munster with similar ambition.