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'Literally 24 hours out, still feeling physically ill with what's coming up'

By PA
(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

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Ireland flanker Peter O’Mahony has admitted he feels “physically ill” in the build-up to every match ahead of Saturday’s crunch Guinness Six Nations clash with England.

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The Munster captain will win his 83rd cap in the green jersey at Twickenham after retaining his starting place from the round-three win over Italy.

Ireland must beat Eddie Jones’ men in London to remain in contention for championship glory.

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While he is the third most experienced international in the Irish starting XV behind recalled duo Cian Healy and Johnny Sexton, O’Mahony continues to find it tough to control the pre-match tension.

“Every game is so important, every game brings massive nerves for me still,” he said.

“Literally 24 hours out, still feeling physically ill with what’s coming up – the battle, the stipulations, wanting to play well, not wanting to let people down.

“That doesn’t change regardless of who your opposition is, that’s always in the forefront of your mind.”

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O’Mahony skippered Ireland against the Azzurri last time out, marking his first Six Nations start since being sent off on the opening weekend of last year’s tournament by claiming the fourth of nine tries.

Andy Farrell’s side breezed to a 57-6 victory on that occasion but face a far tougher proposition this weekend, with the losers set to be eliminated from the title race.

O’Mahony helped the Irish complete a Grand Slam at Twickenham in 2018 but has lost on his other six trips to the stadium, including twice in 2020.

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The 32-year-old believes his country have improved during the past two years but concedes he retains “emotional scars” from past failures.

“There’s certainly days you don’t forget about but they’re certainly in the past,” he said.

“You always have those emotional scars, is the only way to describe them, in your career.

“They stay with you forever, but they’re not something I’ll be thinking about this week. They’re past.

“They probably moulded me as a rugby player, but they’re not something I go back to very often.

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“I’ve been there and they’re certainly something I have learnt lessons from.”

England head coach Eddie Jones has billed Ireland as “red-hot favourites” this weekend.

Defeat to Grand Slam-chasing France in round two is the Irish’s only defeat in 11 games.

That impressive run of form includes beating England 32-18 in Dublin on the final weekend of last year’s championship, yet O’Mahony feels fixtures on the road present a far greater test.

“You see from the stats how hard it is to pick up away wins, particularly against England,” he said.

“I think they are up around 86 percent of home victories, maybe more.

“It’s got to be one of our best performances to win in Twickenham.”

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