Andy Farrell impressed by captain Peter O’Mahony’s response to being dropped

Ireland boss Andy Farrell feels captain Peter O’Mahony has shown “proper leadership” in his response to being dropped for Saturday’s second Test against world champions South Africa.

Caelan Doris will skipper the tourists in Durban after O’Mahony was demoted to the bench as part of four personnel changes.

Lock James Ryan has been recalled in place of the veteran Munster flanker following last weekend’s 27-20 defeat in Pretoria, with Tadhg Beirne shifting from the second row to the number six position.

Caelan Doris will lead Ireland in Durban (Brian Lawless/PA)
Caelan Doris will lead Ireland in Durban (Brian Lawless/PA) (PA Wire)

“You don’t expect those conversations to be easy and don’t get me wrong, he’s not accepting and he’s not happy obviously, but he does the right thing for the team,” Farrell told reporters, according to RTE.

“That’s at the forefront of his mind constantly, and that’s proper leadership. He understands that we want to have a look in this direction to see how it goes.

“He’s the captain of this tour and it shows the mark of the man how you lead after a bit of disappointment, how you carry on being yourself or not.”

Ireland must win at Kings Park Stadium to salvage a 1-1 series draw following a first defeat to the Springboks in eight years.

The reigning Six Nations champions have only once before been victorious on South African soil – a 26-20 success in Cape Town in 2016.

Farrell insisted O’Mahony still has a big role to play, while talking up the talents of the recalled Ryan.

“He’s on the bench for a reason,” the head coach said of O’Mahony. “He makes people feel good, it’s right when he’s there with his presence and leading.

“What people are failing at this moment in time to talk about is that James Ryan has been a starter for us for years and years and been a real leader within our side and he’s not happy sitting on the bench neither.

“We’ve seen some real guts and fight and determination to get his starting place back. He had a great impact off the bench last week.

“How he’s trained throughout this tour shows that he’s hungry, so we’re hoping to get something from him, and also we know that Tadhg Beirne’s a world-class player no matter what position he plays in.”

Ireland lock James Ryan, pictured, is one of four players recalled by head coach Andy Farrell (Bradley Collyer/PA)
Ireland lock James Ryan, pictured, is one of four players recalled by head coach Andy Farrell (Bradley Collyer/PA) (PA Archive)

Farrell confirmed centre Bundee Aki is absent due to a shoulder issue suffered during the opening Test.

Garry Ringrose comes into midfield to make his first international start since last year’s Rugby World Cup, while hooker Ronan Kelleher and scrum-half Conor Murray replace injured pair Dan Sheehan and Craig Casey.

Number eight Doris assumed the captaincy when O’Mahony was taken off last Saturday.

The 26-year-old has been backed to communicate well with the match officials after at times finding himself on the wrong side of referee Luke Pearce in Pretoria.

“I’m more than fully confident,” said Farrell.

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell, pictured, has selected Caelan Doris as captain for the second Test against South Africa (Brian Lawless/PA)
Ireland head coach Andy Farrell, pictured, has selected Caelan Doris as captain for the second Test against South Africa (Brian Lawless/PA) (PA Wire)

“First and foremost he leads from the front. His performance last week, never mind the leadership or captaincy bit, he was outstanding.

“He’s a calming influence, he’s bright. The questions that he’s going to the referees with are the right ones. His manner is very good as well.”

Meanwhile, the Irish Rugby Football Union is set to ban its provinces from signing overseas front-row forwards from 2025.

Incoming IRFU performance director David Humphreys said the policy is designed to further encourage Connacht, Leinster, Munster and Ulster to unearth and develop props and hookers capable of competing at Test level.

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