'It was a special performance' - Johann Van Graan hails Joey Carbery after starring role in five star win
Johann van Graan has paid tribute to Joey Carbery for the way he bounced back from a difficult outing against Castres away before Christmas.
The out-half crossed for two tries and scored 26 points in a man of the match performance against Gloucester at Kingsholm as the Irish province took full control of Pool B with a five-try win. He has not missed a kick since his off-day in France.
His coach was impressed with the team performance and his staff’s role in preparing the team, but reserved special praise for the 23-year-old Athy native after a “special” display.
"Firstly, about the team if I can start wider. You've got to give credit to the management and the coaching staff after that performance, all credit to them,” the South African said after the 41-15 win.
"This whole week was about the squad and about this performance. Everyone put their heart and soul into this one because we knew we needed to get through this one to keep us alive for next week.
"Then the 23 guys that played their part on the field, I thought all 23 guys did that.
"I think Joey capped it off with a special performance and if I'm not mistaken, he didn't miss a goal-kick again, that's three weeks in a row. That's what wins you games.
"I thought he and Conor (Murray) really played well together tonight and I thought they combined well with Scans (Rory Scannell) and Chris Farrell. I thought Mikey (Haley) at the back was really good and Andrew (Conway) and Earlsy (Keith Earls) pounced on the opportunities that came their way. A really good team performance.
"Obviously, we weren't at our best for Castres away and we gave all the guys a week off, started to regenerate in all facets of play.
"If you're a 10, you're going to take some criticism but we knew from day one that he's here to learn and here to be part of a team.
“I thought he'd played really well over the last three weeks and to me, his decision making - when to run, when to pass, when to kick, when to show - I thought that was excellent tonight.
"One or two of the plays came off and the one for Andrew's try that went to the blind, again the decision that he made was so good."
Van Graan was understandably delighted with a result that puts Munster within touching distance of the quarter-finals.
They welcome Exeter Chiefs to a sold out Thomond Park next Saturday. The English side are nine points behind the pool leaders, but host Castres at Sandy Park on Sunday. Castres are currently a point ahead of them and have named a strong team.
"We're very happy with the win and the bonus point. We knew this was going to be a massive game and they started with real intent, that first penalty they went to the corner,” he said.
"We knew it was going to be a tough one and we kept them out. Two other moments in the game for me - the try just before half time that we scored. I thought our patience was so good, something we've worked on over the last three weeks.
"The try they scored after half-time was 35 phases and even though they scored the try that actually made us stronger in terms of our belief. We'll take this bonus point win away from home.
"It's only Friday night now, which means two extra rest days and we start again on Monday."
"I thought we defended well the last two weeks and we knew with Danny (Cipriani) playing, that's going to be an extra threat and one of the players I respect so much, Billy Twelvetrees, they've got two receivers and we needed to work hard.
"That one scoring opportunity, I thought in the first half, which didn't go to hand, but other than that I thought we shut them down so well and our forwards' work off the ball was exceptional tonight.
"Then the collision, we knew we were challenged by a team who wanted to win on their home ground and I thought we dominated the collisions tonight."
However, the one worry for Munster after tonight’s win will be the fitness of Peter O’Mahony who left the field with a rib injury in the 46th minute of the game.
"He's in a bit of pain. It looks like a rib. We'll obviously have to take our time with it and re-assess on Monday. Sometimes it heals quickly and other times not, so I've got no update but it's definitely a popped rib,” van Graan said.
With the Six Nations kick off against England just three weeks away, Joe Schmidt will be hoping the news on his vice captain is positive. Munster will provide an injury update on Monday.