Joey Carbery dismisses call for him to leave Leinster and admits 'Fiji game was the hardest I have ever been hit'
Barely two minutes earlier, Joey Carbery's twinkle toes had led the Fiji defence a merry dance and created the opening try.
Retribution was sought and as soon as all 121kg of Jale Vatubua lined Carbery up, the mercurial out-half was like a rabbit caught in the headlights as he felt the full brunt of Fiji's answer to Sonny Bill Williams.
After catching his breath, the 22-year-old bounced back to his feet and continued to pull the strings at the Aviva Stadium, but there is only so much punishment a body can take, particularly when up against a monstrous Fijian side.
The clock had just ticked by the hour mark when Peni Ravai, a modest 119kg prop, hurled himself at Carbery and flattened him. Game over.
The Leinster player's resilience is such that, just like he did in the first half, he attempted to get back to his feet but a quick look down at his left arm told him continuing was not a bright idea.
"It was instant pain, I thought it might have been just a bang but then I looked down and my arm was a bit flimsy so I was like, 'there's something wrong here'," Carbery recalls.
"(No) 13 lined me up in the first half as well. That was a sore one. I'd say their tackler at 13 is definitely the hardest I've ever been hit."
Significant damage had been suffered - so much so that he went under the knife the following day.
X-rays revealed three broken bones and three screws later it was fixed back into place.
The aim is to return in January, ahead of the Six Nations, but the medical experts are reluctant to put an exact time on it just yet, as Carbery outlines.
"There was one bone, the scaphoid, which doesn't get too much blood-flow so that's probably the main focus, the one they're most worried about, so that's why I've got to wait and see because they just don't know how long it will take to heal.
"It's only a small bone but it's quite crucial to the way the wrist moves so passing and stuff could be affected if it doesn't heal properly. That's why we're kind of unsure.
"It's feeling a lot better but I just have to wait until I get out of the cast."
The injury is a cruel blow to Carbery ahead of a crucial period of Leinster's season but he knows that there is still a long way to go.
He won even more admirers for his hour-long performance against Fiji and despite breaking his arm, he still relishes the challenge of trying to out-smart more physical opponents.
"When you take a big hit like that, you hope someone else will have space for it," Carbery maintains.
"I've experienced that before, playing against the big teams like Montpellier, you've just kinda got to read whether they're coming up fast or coming up slow.
"It was good fun. Darren Sweetnam's try, I was lucky enough to get the break on the inside, it was good.
"It was quite an open game. I thought maybe the last 20 minutes had I not got injured it would have opened up as everyone started to get tired."
The spell on the sidelines will quieten the debate about the amount of game-time he needs at out-half and despite what Eddie O'Sullivan thinks, Carbery is adamant that Leinster is the best place for him.
The former Ireland head coach insisted that the 22-year-old - who is targeting a January return - would be better elsewhere ahead of the World Cup but Carbery has no intention of going anywhere.
"I didn't think too much of it to be honest," Carbery said. "The opinions that really count are in the actual environment. I think it's the best environment to be learning in, behind Johnny (Sexton) and Rob (Kearney). I'm learning as much as I can in Leinster as I would anywhere."
The time off also afforded him the chance to meet one of his heroes, legendary All Blacks No 10 Dan Carter, thanks to Ronan O'Gara.
"I met him at the Ireland-Denmark soccer game," he adds.
"We had a coffee on Friday before we left, it was pretty cool. He was talking about how to control a team and that it comes in time. He was saying how nervous and shy he was in his first three or four years playing.
"He said how good it was to learn from Carlos Spencer and Andrew Mehrtens because he started off playing 12 for the first three or four years.
"He said playing in a different position can be a good thing because you learn from others.
"That gave me confidence of playing 15 and playing with Johnny (Sexton), and learning how to take responsibility.
"He is one of the best 10s ever, to hear that from him is pretty cool."
Taking that advice from Carter on board will be music to the ears of everyone at Leinster.
- Joey Carbery is an ambassador for Europcar Ireland and was promoting the Europcar Privilege Programme.
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