Saturday 24 August 2019

Friend backs Carty to maintain his fine form and push for Ireland call-up

Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Connacht head coach Andy Friend has backed Jack Carty to continue his excellent form and put himself into contention for the November internationals.

The former Ireland U-20s out-half is uncapped at senior level but he has caught the eye with some fine individual performances in the early weeks of the season, not least last weekend in the Westerners' win over the Scarlets.

Joe Schmidt was at the Sportsground to see Carty expertly pull the strings against last season's beaten finalists - time will tell if he has impressed enough to earn himself a first call-up in the coming weeks.

Carty's Connacht boss certainly believes that he is good enough to push onto the next level.

"We've a number of players in that squad who, if they keep playing the way they're playing, the selectors need to be looking at them," Friend said.

"Jack's been great, I've only seen him this year so the Jack I've seen is an impressive man. He's growing in confidence in every game. He has an amazing skill-set, we're just trying to give him licence to use that skill-set, he's been really impressive. With Jack's form, it's hard not to be picking him."

Speaking about his influence amongst the squad, Friend admitted that Carty generally lets his actions speak for themselves.

"Jack goes about his business in a quiet, unassuming kind of way," the Australian explained.

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"There's different personalities and you need that in a team too. You know Bundee's around because that's Bundee's personality.

"Jack sort of slides under the radar a bit but you know the way he's playing he has a massive impact on our game too."

Newly-appointed Connacht captain Jarrad Butler, who has also enjoyed a fine start to the new campaign, echoed Friend's sentiments about Carty, and said that the pack were relishing playing for him.

"He's making really good decisions and communicating really well as well, especially managing the forwards.

"There's nothing more refreshing when you get up from a ruck and they are the ones running backwards and you can just chase them up-field.

"He's doing that really well, just controlling the games. He's spreads the ball around, he's so comfortable there.

"It makes the world of difference to the tight-five and back-row. He seems to be getting better and better. It's exciting."

There was a marked improvement in Connacht's intensity last weekend, which was in no small part down to the physicality that Bundee Aki brought in midfield - both in attack and defence.

"He's a player you want on your side, not playing against, and I know the young 10 (Rhys) Patchell, he'll be having nightmares," Friend said of the Ireland centre.

"There was one from one of our second-rowers, Bundee tackles him and puts him under pressure, then runs over the top of him, and all of a sudden, I don't care who you are as a player, you start to ask questions: 'Do I really want to be in his contest?'

"That wasn't the reason we won the contest but it certainly gave us confidence to go forward it was a really good statement to make early on."

Connacht will need to hit similar heights against Leinster at home tomorrow, if they are to have any hope of repeating last year's big win.

Friend, however, is eager not to focus too much on the past.

"You can get hung up and think that is going to happen (again) this weekend. We have got to make it happen," he added.

"We're a different team again this year. We have to turn up and make sure that we are better than we were last weekend."

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