Sunday 22 September 2019

Doubts grow over Joey Carbery’s World Cup hopes after Munster out-half undergoes ankle procedure

Joey Carbery can’t hide his anguish as he is taken off with an ankle injury. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Joey Carbery can’t hide his anguish as he is taken off with an ankle injury. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Brendan Fanning

Brendan Fanning

Joey Carbery’s World Cup is in the balance following surgery on the ankle he injured in the win over Italy last weekend. The outhalf had a minor procedure in Santry Surgical Clinic last Monday on the ligament which is understood not to have suffered a major tear.

The best case prognosis is that he will be able to play some part in the final warm-up game, against Wales on September 7th, but the likelihood is he will not be risked until the Scotland in the opening World Cup game, in Yokohama on September 22nd, if even then.

That would leave Carbery with only 50 minutes of rugby pre-tournament – a huge risk if he had to come off the bench early in that game. He played only five matches for Munster since Christmas and had two runs off the bench for Ireland early in the Six Nations, with a recurring hamstring tear ruining the second half of his season.

The doubt over Carbery’s fitness has implications for how Joe Schmidt will fill out his 31 man squad. It’s understood he was considering Carbery as scrumhalf cover, in the way planned for Ian Madigan in England four years ago. But depending on how well Carbery recovers that plan may well be abandoned, with Schmidt having to bring six players to cover nine and 10.

In that scenario the price would have to be paid further back the field, with room only for three specialist centres. Schmidt has relied primarily on Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki and Garry Ringrose to date, leaving outside centre Chris Farrell – who did a good job at 12 last weekend against Italy – closest to the door.

Carbery flew out with the squad to Portugal last Wednesday and will rehab the ankle there before they fly straight to London, two days ahead of the England Test on August 24th.

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