Cian Tracey: 'Crushing Joey Carbery blow leaves Andy Farrell with major Six Nations headache'

Joey Carbery. Photo: Sportsfile

Cian Tracey

First things first, spare a thought for Joey Carbery, who is facing the prospect of missing a large chunk of Munster's season for the second year in a row since joining the province in 2018.

Naturally, supporters will be cursing their luck at the prospect of being without their key play-maker again, but this latest blow cannot be easy for a young player, who made the move from his home province with the intention of igniting his career.

Things haven't gone to plan and a wrist injury comes on the back of the hamstring issue that hampered him for the second half of last season as well as the ankle problem which dogged him throughout the World Cup and into the start of the current campaign with Munster.

He's mentally tough enough to bounce back from another freak setback, but those who doubt his durability will again question his resolve.

The 24-year-old must block out that kind of negativity and although that will be easier said than done, he will be surrounded by good people in Munster.

When Johnny Sexton went down with a knee injury last month, Carbery would have eyed the Six Nations as a chance to start the Andy Farrell era on the front foot.

Those hopes have now been crushed.

Carbery learned the hard way about the risks involved in rushing back too soon from injury as, understandably, he pushed himself to make the plane to Japan. He might think twice about doing so again, but try telling that to a player who has the chance to represent his country at a World Cup. If there is a crumb of comfort in all of this, it is that Carbery broke his arm against Fiji in 2017, so he will have a fair idea of the rehab involved once he undergoes surgery on his damaged wrist.

Munster must now plan without their first-choice out-half and with JJ Hanrahan and Tyler Bleyendaal struggling for fitness, it makes an already enormous task in Paris on Sunday, even more daunting.

Hanrahan will hope to make it back in time but the province will be reluctant to rush him unless his hamstring has fully healed.

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Either way, Academy out-half Ben Healy, who has never played in the Champions Cup, could be thrown in at the deep end, unless Rory Scannell is switched from midfield.

As for Ireland, head coach Farrell is learning how life at the top can be tough. Sexton should be given all the time he needs to get back to full fitness, which suddenly opens the door for Ross Byrne, who failed to make the World Cup squad.

With Jack Carty still striving to rediscover his best form, Farrell is facing the possibility of starting his first Six Nations campaign with Byrne and the uncapped Billy Burns as his two main 10s.

All of that won't concern Carbery however, as he comes to terms with yet another cruel blow.