The Haggard Badger’s value to Ireland highlighted ahead of milestone match

Iain Henderson revealed Test centurion Peter O’Mahony has been dubbed the “Haggard Badger” by his Ireland team-mates.

O’Mahony will become only the 10th Irishman to earn 100 caps after being selected to start Saturday’s crucial Rugby World Cup clash with Scotland in Paris.

Head coach Andy Farrell and captain Johnny Sexton were among those to pay tribute to the Munster skipper ahead of his landmark outing.

Lock Henderson also offered a glowing testimony but could not resist divulging an unflattering nickname based on O’Mahony’s well-worn features and greying hair, which was reportedly invented by prop Dave Kilcoyne.

Asked about the 34-year-old, Henderson replied: “The Haggard Badger?

“The Haggard Badger, I think he’s been coined. I’m not 100 per cent sure where that came from.”

Scrum-half Jamison Gibson-Park, who was sitting next to Henderson, confirmed Kilcoyne was responsible, before the Ulster skipper continued: “Pete’s a massive leader for our group.

“Not only in terms of rugby but in terms of what we stand for as players, the social side of things, how well knitted together we are, he’s a massive part of that.

“Obviously I’m sure a lot of the cliches will come out now, but Peter rings true to most of them. He’s deserving of every minute of the jerseys he’s played in and, to this day, still nailing that down.

O’Mahony is poised to join Ireland greats Brian O’Driscoll, Ronan O’Gara, Rory Best, Paul O’Connell and John Hayes on the select list of centurions, plus current team-mates Cian Healy, Sexton, Conor Murray and Keith Earls.

The flanker, who made his international debut against Italy in 2012, will seek to mark the milestone appearance by helping his country avoid an upset against the Scots to reach the knockout stages in France.

“We can sit here all day the two of us and talk about what he brings, what he means to us all, what type of bloke he is, what type of family man he is,” Farrell, sitting alongside Sexton, said of O’Mahony.

“But we’d be here the whole press conference. To sum him up, he’s selfless.

“You guys would see the performance on the pitch and it’s heroic from Pete. You can see what it means for him to play for Ireland.

Ireland v Italy – Summer Nations Series – Aviva Stadium
Iain Henderson, pictured, highlighted Peter O’Mahony’s importance to the Ireland camp (Damien Eagers/PA)

“And it’s not just a skill. It’s him being himself because it’s genuine and I’m sure Johnny would echo this that there’s no better man that you would want sat at the side of you in the dressing room at the weekend than Peter O’Mahony.”

Sexton added: “I don’t think you guys get to see the real Peter O’Mahony.

“He gives very little away when he sits up here, one word answers, but he’s the life and soul of the dressing room behind closed doors and it’s a privilege to play with him all the time.

“We’ll be playing for him as much as we are for ourselves on Saturday.”

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