Tuesday 16 July 2019

'I just fell in love with the place straight away' - Joey Carbery on Munster move one year on

Joey Carbery at the launch of Avonmore’s new Blueberry Protein Milk. Photo: ©INPHO/James Crombie
Joey Carbery at the launch of Avonmore’s new Blueberry Protein Milk. Photo: ©INPHO/James Crombie
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

The Joey Carbery who sits before us now is very different to the one who just over a year ago sat in front of many of the same faces and seemed less than sure about his impending move to Munster.

In hindsight, it was a lot to take in for someone so young, especially when the then 22-year-old was preparing for a tour of Australia, which could yet prove to be a real watershed moment in his international career.

It's often easy to take for granted how tough it can be to uproot your life with such suddenness, but deep down Carbery knew it was the right thing to do.

Twelve months on, and it feels like Carbery has been playing in red for much longer than he actually has.


That all stems from how well he has adapted to life at Munster and wasted little time in becoming a crowd favourite.

The decision, then, to extend his contract for another two years beyond the original date of 2020 was a more obvious one than the move to Limerick in the first place.

"I just fell in love with the place straight away," Carbery says.

"The more I stayed down, the more I loved it.

"To be honest, I didn't want to go anywhere else, so when the contract negotiations began I was more than happy to put pen to paper and stay another two years.

"Initially it was all very raw. When I announced it I had only really decided the day before.

"To me, it was a huge change, probably one of the biggest changes I've ever done in my life.

"I suppose just pre-tour to Australia as well, there was a lot of stuff going through my mind, so when it settled down and I got down there, I just loved it. I was delighted when the contract was brought up."

A hamstring injury plagued his first season in red, yet Carbery showed enough glimpses of his class for the Munster supporters to believe that they finally had an out-half who the club can build its future around.

When Carbery did decide to leave Leinster, he may have questioned his timing as the province brought in Felipe Contepomi.

Learning from a former out-half with such flair may have seemed like a missed opportunity, but with Munster bringing in Stephen Larkham, Carbery will get the chance to be coached by a like-minded individual who has the potential to take his game to the next level.

"Yeah, it's great news for us to get him down," Carbery said of Larkham's appointment.

"Obviously he's done a great job with the Brumbies in Australia, you can see his impact there, so I'm really looking forward to getting down and working with him and seeing what he can do with the team.

"I would have seen him play and watched him when I was younger.


"He was a special player. It's funny how he started playing 15 when he was younger and then moved into 10, so it's cool to see how he did that. It'll be great to chat to him about it.

"I think most coaches give you the licence, if you see something to have a go, and obviously if it doesn't work out it's your responsibility, but there's never really a boundary put on you.

"You could even see with the Brumbies, the way they played - they played what was in front of them, which was pretty cool to watch.

"I knew myself before the signing that the club want to be winning silverware. They're very ambitious, so it just shows that they're willing to make the changes for it to happen."

Carbery will hope that the unwanted time spent on the sidelines last season will have its benefits as he returns to full fitness and, most importantly, is fresh heading into the rapidly-approaching World Cup.

The game-time he has managed at out-half with Munster has given him a confidence boost as he looks to put pressure on Johnny Sexton for his starting place.

"I feel pretty comfortable (as an international 10)," Carbery added.

"I've never gone into a game feeling nervous or thinking that I'm not able to do it, so I'd be very comfortable in the situation.

"Every position in the squad now, there's four players in each position, so you compete with them.

"It's always going to be part and parcel with it in sport these days. Ronaldo and Messi are always compared. There are always comparisons."

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