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Peter O’Mahony put it simply when asked what drives Ireland to keep hitting the heights which they reached last year.

An unforgettable 2018 which yielded a Grand Slam, a series win in Australia and a historic victory over the All Blacks in November – how does a team motivate themselves when they have achieved all they could have in the last 12 months?

“It’s the hunger,” O’Mahony said firmly.

“The hunger you have to play for Ireland. If you don’t have that, you’re not in the right place being in this group. That’s what drives us, having a chance to play in a green jersey. Whether it be starting or on the bench or having aspirations to do it, hopefully, in the Six Nations and beyond, that’s what drives us and drives our group.

Peter O'Mahony Ireland England

“Obviously, we’re in the business to win but putting on the jersey every time, that’s the driving factor for this group.”

That desire to represent one’s country comes with responsibility in itself. With expectations at an all-time high because of Ireland’s superb form, O’Mahony reveals that the fear of losing is also a motivating factor due to not only their own high standards which they set among themselves but that they also don’t want to let their supporters down.

“Fear is always a factor for us. Fear of letting people down, fear of losing. We hate losing.

“It’s always a part, it’s always a little bit there that drives you on and that’s across the board for any competitive athlete, that fear of losing, fear of letting people down, fear of letting your teammates down is always there and it has to be a bit of a factor.”

O’Mahony has been named to start in Joe Schmidt’s selection for Saturday’s clash with England alongside Josh van der Flier and Munster teammate CJ Stander in the back-row.

Peter O'Mahony Ireland England

The competition for places is arguably at its highest we have seen in the professional era and O’Mahony attributes this to how well prepared the players are when the whistle blows for kick off.

“It’s not just the four guys [O’Mahony, van der Flier, Stander and Sean O’Brien] who have been named. You look at the guys who have been left out. I think it just shows the quality of the competition and the standard of where we’re driving for.

“Guys like Rhys [Ruddock], Jack [Conan], Jordi [Murphy] – I could go on. Guys who haven’t even been named in the squad. The pressure we’re putting on ourselves and guys are putting on each other to perform in training, perform in games for your provinces and to perform in the biggest stage of all, internationally.

“That can only be good for the squad and that’s something we rely heavily on.”

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