Friday 28 April 2017

'The future of Leinster rugby' - Jack Conan can't speak highly enough of Joey Carbery

Leinster 28 Dragons 15

Leinster out-half Joey Carbery, centre, is congratulated by his team-mates after scoring his side’s fourth try. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Leinster out-half Joey Carbery, centre, is congratulated by his team-mates after scoring his side’s fourth try. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
David Kelly

David Kelly

Saturday night in the RDS and a perfect evening for a competitive game of ball. Sadly, it never arrived.

Lots of time, then, for supporters to think ahead to the devilishly tricky double-header against Northampton Saints in the Champions Cup.

Or marvel at the fact that Leinster have already used 50 different players this season - three more debutants here in Max Deegan, Jeremy Loughman and Charlie Rock - as 19 internationals sat this out, having returned on Thursday to begin plotting for Europe.

And then there's Joey Carbery.

Dan Leavy of Leinster is tackled by Cory Hill of Dragons during the Guinness PRO12 match at the RDS Arena. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Dan Leavy of Leinster is tackled by Cory Hill of Dragons during the Guinness PRO12 match at the RDS Arena. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

As the old song has it, the future's so bright you gotta wear shades; or, as the stunningly precocious out-half did instead, don day-glo orange football boots to match the glare from the floodlights.

It hardly helped to dim the growing glow that has attached itself to his name. Then again, his nod to ostentation in the footwear department is the norm, of late; yet there is nothing in his character that suggests anything other than calm assurance.

And that humility affords him the ability to deliver perfectly measured performances under pressure, despite ever precipitous demands as those who have watched his progress in recent months can easily see.

"Firstly, for someone who took from nine games playing in the AIL final to making his debut off the bench against the All Blacks, I think it is a testament to how humble and hard-working he is as a bloke," says Jack Conan, man of the match after nabbing one of the four bonus-point tries (Peter Dooley, Ross Molony and Carbery scored the others as Leinster joined Munster at the head of Guinness Pro12 affairs).

"He's fitted right back in this week," added Conan of a player coach Leo Cullen suggested was "available" for selection this Friday in the light of Jonathan Sexton's latest injury woe.

"Even today, he's made breaks, he's electric, he's got pace, he's got a step, he can kick, he can pass," said Conan. "He is the future of Leinster Rugby, in my opinion.

Leinster's Jack Conan scores his side's third try. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Leinster's Jack Conan scores his side's third try. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

"It has brought the standard up for everyone, to have this lad come in with virtually no experience and go out and play for Ireland.

"It is really deserving. It is great to see Joe Schmidt give someone like that the opportunity to go and play.

"I know Joey's only been in here a limited amount of time. But, who he is as a person, you haven't seen the best of him yet.

"He'll keep on growing and continue to put Johnny under pressure. He's going to be a fantastic player in years to come as he is now already."

Carbery may now be tasked to step up again and prove he can guide Leinster in their back-to-back games in Europe.

"Again, it comes back to Joey playing nine games and having that temperament to go and play for Ireland. Even the other day, coming on against Australia in a position that he hasn't played a lot in. It wasn't a perfect game for him. But, personally, I wouldn't have said that lad looks out of place.

"He did some great things. He has a great boot. He is good in the air. He's quick. He's strong.

"If Johnny's not there? Yeah, it's different. But, it's a good different to have Joey there," said Conan.

Cullen was equally effusive when asked to assess Carbery's stunning emergence.

"He's really, really mature. He's just somebody who loves going out and enjoys playing the game. I think that's the most exciting part.

"He wants to get better, he enjoys playing the game. He's ambitious. I remember watching him for Clontarf a good few games last year. You could see the level of ambition that he has. It's a very, very positive thing for Leinster rugby.

"A lot of people are taking credit! Athy, where he started. Blackrock, I think the year that he had in there. They're taking a lot of credit as well.

"Obviously, I think he did a year in UCD before he went to Clontarf. Then our sub-academy, academy. He's obviously come through playing in pre-season games.

"With three young 10s battling it out during pre-season, Joey just stole the march, and ends up playing for Leinster, making his first start in the Pro12, into making his first start in Europe up here against Castres where I thought he went really, really well.

"He played the second half against Montpellier, and then he's making his debut for Ireland the following week against New Zealand in Chicago.

"It's pretty incredible really, but he takes it all in his stride. It's great to see. It's a great thing for all the other guys to aspire to as well. All the other young players."

Cullen also confirmed that both Rob Kearney and Robbie Henshaw are on schedule to complete their return-to-play protocols as the big guns line up for the two Northampton games.

Leinster - Z Kirchner; A Byrne, R O'Loughlin, N Reid (T Daly 18), I Nacewa (capt); J Carbery (Ross Byrne 47), L McGrath (C Rock 63); P Dooley (A Porter 54), J Tracy (R Strauss 53), J Loughman (O Heffernan 53); R Molony, H Triggs (M McCarthy 63); R Ruddock (M Deegan 74), D Leavy, J Conan.

Dragons - C Meyer (T Prydie 21); P Howard, T Morgan, J Dixon (G Rhys Jones 53), A Warren; A O'Brien, T Knoyle (S Pretorious 56); P Price (T Davies 47), E Dee (R Buckley 56), B Harris (L Fairbrother 74); N Crosswell (C Hill 51), R Landman; L Evans (capt), N Cudd, H Keddie (J Thomas 49).

Ref - M Mitrea (Italy)

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