Carbery 'really happy' with Munster move as he aims to maintain fine form
Chicago brings back all kinds of special memories for Joey Carbery and ahead of another trip to Soldier Field this weekend, the Ireland out-half is hoping to create even more.
It was in the Windy City that Carbery (right) made his international debut against the country of his birth when Ireland beat the All Blacks for the first time.
As well as that, he turned 21 in the days leading up to the game, which made the celebrations afterwards all the more memorable.
On the Tuesday beforehand, the squad went for dinner to celebrate Carbery's birthday but at that stage, he was still in the dark about whether or not he was going to be in the match day squad for the clash with New Zealand.
"I wasn't too sure but I was just happy to have been brought over here," he reflects.
"It was my first time over in the States and just with all that was going on, it was pretty cool.
"It was me and Garry's (Ringrose) first time on the squad which was cool because we'd be quite close outside of rugby, so it was good to be able to be there with him and both of us be in the same situation."
With Johnny Sexton remaining in Ireland this week, Carbery is expected to pull the strings on Saturday and doing so will give him a chance to build on his impressive displays on the summer tour.
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"I suppose within the group we set certain standards that we need to adhere by so we want to go out there on Saturday and improve from where we left off in Australia, which was a pretty good place to leave off," the 22-year-old maintains.
"We want to keep building and it's an exciting opportunity and cool place to be able to go out and have a go. We're looking forward to it but we know how tough it's going to be.
"They're trying other stuff the same as we are but we know how good they are in the PRO14 after the last couple of years and how strong their players are so we know it's not going to be easy at all. It's going to be a real challenge for us to see if we can keep our standards up and keep progressing."
Carbery has hit the ground running since joining Munster and there is still much more to come from him.
He has already played eight times in his preferred position for his new team and Joe Schmidt will be expecting to see the benefits of that this weekend.
"That was the main reason for the move, to be getting that game-time," Carbery insists. "I'm really happy with how it's gone and we're in a good place in Europe and a good place in the PRO14 after that win over Glasgow on the weekend.
"There's so much stuff we can build on, so much to work on and it's really exciting.
"There's good coaches and good players around you that can tell what you've done good and what you've done bad. I think, having started those six games and come off the bench for he first two, it's precious moments.
"For me, I feel I'm best when I'm continuously playing and getting into the rhythm of things. I'm stoked with how much I'm learning down there from the people and the coaches and I'm really happy with how it's going so far."
For the likes of Carbery and the other fringe players who are set to line out against Italy, this is an ideal chance to stake their claim.
Given that Schmidt decided to delay his arrival in Chicago in favour of remaining with the front-line players at Carton House, there is even more of a reason to want to prove a point.
"We don't want to take any steps back, we want to take every game as a test and to really put ourselves out there and see where we're at," Carbery adds.
"The Australia tour was a great way to finish the year on top of the Grand Slam but now it's a new slate almost. Same standards, similar team but wanting more.
"We've all got the same standards but I think it's going to be an exciting team. It's going to be a team that's not afraid to try things and it's going to be a very hungry team that's getting an opportunity. I'm pretty sure all the boys will be buzzing."
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