Munster captain Peter O’Mahony paid tribute to the Irish province’s head coach Anthony Foley at an at an emotional press conference in Limerick on Wednesday.
Foley died of a heart problem at Munster’s hotel in Paris on Saturday and his death led to the postponement of the Irish province’s Champions Cup clash against Racing 92.
Mahony and Munster’s director of rugby, Rassie Erasmus, spoke publicly for the first time since Foley’s death.
Mahony, who was emotional at times, spoke about the admiration he had for Foley as a player and how he eventually played under him as Munster’s captain.
“My first game that he coached me with Munster was an U20s game in Thomond Park,” said O’Mahony.
”We won it 3-0, ironically enough, and that suited Axe as good as if we’d beaten them by 60 0r 70 points.
“He was a man who wanted any Munster jersey to win at any cost…
“I’m not going to do him justice here, all the words I could say, to be honest.
“Personally, he’s meant a huge amount. He’s been there, I haven’t supported a Munster team that he wasn’t involved in, he’s been there from the start. Every Munster team I supported that wore a red jersey, he’s been in or coached.
“The amount he’s meant to the club, you can’t put that into words.”
O’Mahony idolised Foley and said it benefitted him that they both played in the back row.
“I was lucky he was in my position as well, the knowledge he could give to me,” he added.
“At times it was frustrating for him, because he was such a good footballer and he found it hard at times to understand why we couldn’t see what he could.
“He was blessed with a rugby brain and a rugby mind.
“The amount we’ve lost now that he’s gone is incredible. The rugby knowledge, the brain.
“The man, the friend, the coach, the brother that we’ve lost. It’s mad…”
It has been confirmed that Munster’s Champions Cup clash against Glasgow Warriors will go ahead, as scheduled on Saturday, and Erasmus revealed that Foley’s absence was keenly felt at training this week.
“It was tough not to see him standing there, not to go and talk to him before and afterwards,” he said.
“That’s the tough part.”