Connacht's latest prodigy Carty ready to battle for game time
The latest young gun to burst on the scene in Connacht can't wait to see some more action but Jack Carty knows there is stiff competition for the No 10 shirt.
The 21-year-old has followed the same route as Irish international Robbie Henshaw, coming through Marist College in Athlone, the Buccaneers club and the Connacht academy before starting his first game for Pat Lam's men against Leinster last weekend.
A year older than Henshaw, Carty had made a few appearances off the bench in away games before Lam threw him in at the deep end.
"I tried to treat it like a normal game, like an AIL match or an Eagles game, but the nerves did build up before the match and the hairs were standing up on the back of my neck when we ran out," admitted Carty.
He is the latest player to come off the Connacht academy production line, which is overseen by former player Nigel Carolan.
Former coach Eric Elwood gave him his first taste of Pro12 action when he was still a teenager, off the bench in Glasgow early last season. Carty, who is in his third year in the academy, is a versatile young sportsman.
He played U-15 soccer for Ireland and was on the Roscommon minor football team in 2009.
Carty has captained the Connacht Eagles in the British and Irish Cup this season and has featured off the bench in Pro12 games away to Benetton Treviso and Munster before being selected ahead of Dan Parks to start against champions Leinster.
"It was a tough game," he said. "We were in a really good position but they pulled away in the end and it was really disappointing not to get the win.
"I expected to be targeted, it is inevitable a lot of teams would target the No 10 and in that way it was no different to any other game.
"I really enjoyed it, especially playing in front of the home crowd. That was my first Connacht game at home and it wasn't quite the same feeling playing away to Munster and Treviso."
He is itching to do it all over again but knows that there will be increased competition at Connacht, who play Zebre in the Heineken Cup in Saturday, with Craig Ronaldson and Miah Nikora coming back from injury and bidding for the No 10 position along with the league's all-time top scorer Parks.
"I'll just have to see how it goes. Obviously, Parksy is there, along with Craig Ronaldson and Miah Nikora coming back but hopefully I will get a run," said the Athlone man.
"It was a really enjoyable experience running out in front of the home crowd and hopefully I will get the chance to do it again soon.
"Hopefully, we can put the disappointment of the Leinster loss behind us, get a good win over Zebre and head to Saracens with a lot to play for."
Assistant coach Dan McFarland praised Carty for the way he dealt with the pressure of being thrown in at the deep end.
"He played very well. I thought he did very well to start his first match in such a massive game," said McFarland.
"He acquitted himself very well and we were very proud of him but not at all surprised as he is a very good player who has worked hard to make this happen."