Wednesday 19 December 2018

Joey Carbery 'well able' to shine at Munster

Murray and O’Mahony back new signing to hit the ground running

Joey Carbery. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Joey Carbery. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

In less than a month, the rugby season will be up and running and much of the early focus will centre on how Joey Carbery adapts to life at Munster.

After months of soul-searching over his future, the Athy man can now double down on his decision by making the transition as successful as possible as he emerges from the shadow of Johnny Sexton.

This week, Carbery has been rubbing shoulders with his new team-mates on Fota Island where the squad are taking part in a pre-season mini-camp.

With all of the internationals back and Johann van Graan in situ, they have mixed hard work on the pitch with some goal-setting sessions off it as thoughts turn to taking the next step after losing semi-finals in the Champions Cup and Guinness PRO14 last season.

The hope is that landing an out-half of Carbery's quality will help bridge the gap and Conor Murray and Peter O'Mahony were both singing from the same hymn sheet yesterday as they hailed the new man at the club's jersey launch.

Both Ireland stars have spent plenty of time in Carbery's company in international camps and were alongside him when he led the backline in the first-Tes t against Australia last summer.

CJ Stander, Conor Murray and Peter O’Mahony at the launch of the new Munster alternative and European jerseys, which are available exclusively at Life Style Sports. Photo: INPHO/Dan Sheridan
CJ Stander, Conor Murray and Peter O’Mahony at the launch of the new Munster alternative and European jerseys, which are available exclusively at Life Style Sports. Photo: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

And they have no doubts that he will make his mark at Thomond Park.

"He certainly is, he's well able," skipper O'Mahony said. "For a guy who is 22, he certainly plays like a guy who is in his late 20s.

"He doesn't get flustered, he's well able to lead a team and the beauty of it all is that he is only 22, he's got so much more in him, so much more to go.

"He's had a huge amount to learn, obviously. He's been under Sexto, he's had a great mentor in him and will continue to do so for a long time hopefully.

"He's come around other guys in our squad now who have a lot of experience and who can share a lot of ideas and work well with each other and hopefully, kick us in the one direction."

Although Ireland lost that opening game in Brisbane in June, Murray was impressed with how his half-back partner fared on the biggest start of his career to date.

"He did really well, he controlled things really well in that first Test," Murray said.

"That game started ferociously, particularly me and him got a few heavy hits and Australia seemed to be putting a lot of pressure on us. He kept his cool and stayed composed and grew into the game. Eventually (he) did really well.

"I don't know what the score was when Johnny came on but we were in the lead. Joey steered the ship.

"He is a really good player, a really good fellah. At 22, he is still really young. There is huge potential there.

"I've trained with him an awful lot, played with him a bit, I think that'll hopefully help him settle in.

"The lads know how good he is, and can be, so there's a bit of a buzz around the place about him coming down, the lads know his potential so they'll help him as much as they can too.

"Joey's very confident in his own ability, he'll have no issues settling in or telling people what to do, I don't have any fears for him, he's settled into his role very well."


That said, Murray is not expecting the incumbent out-halves in the Munster squad to hand over the No 10 shirt without a scrap.

"I don't think so, all the other No 10s have their own motivation about what they want to do," he said.

"Keats (Ian Keatley) has been there for a long time, JJ (Hanrahan) had a strong finish to the season and he'll be looking to continue that momentum.

"It's definitely not written down on the team sheet, those lads have an awful lot to play for, and you need that - a competitive squad, that's what's probably let us down (last season) - we didn't have the depth that if someone takes a bang someone else can step in and do a really job. They'll be fighting it out."

Carbery isn't the only new face in Fota this week, as Munster welcome Tadhg Beirne, Arno Botha and Mike Haley into the ranks and Murray is excited by what the new additions can bring.

"Tadhg's been a stand-out performer in Europe for the last few seasons. Hugely exciting, you see him yourself, he can do everything," he said.

"Mike looks really impressive. He seems like a good fellah. Just watching him training, he just glides across the pitch. He looks like a really good athlete and he looks really keen to learn.

"He looks like he has a lot of potential. He is another exciting addition to our squad. We are getting to the semi- finals of competitions and a good pre-season might help us to go again."

Irish Independent

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