'He stays in the zone incredibly well' - Ireland rally around Jack Carty as Connacht star is given the nod
Jack Carty was the talk of Shizuoka this afternoon after the Connacht out-half was selected to start Ireland’s second World Cup clash against hosts Japan on Saturday.
With Johnny Sexton struggling with a quad injury and Joey Carbery just back from ankle surgery, Joe Schmidt has opted to go for Carty who only made his international debut in February.
The 27-year-old has had to be patient and overcome plenty of adversity over the course of his career.
But his coaches and team-mates are rallying around him ahead of the biggest game of his career at the Ecopa Stadium.
"We want to give Jack as much certainty as possible, so we told him on Tuesday that he'd be starting and he could get his head around it," head coach Schmidt said at the team announcement in the Yumeria Grounds this morning.
"He came on and played really well against Scotland, he put in a nice through ball for Chris Farrell to run on to when he was really under pressure, cleared our lines really well a couple of times when we had to come out of our own '22. The distance and angle of the kicks were spot on.
"He's trained really well, so that gives us confidence and allows us to freshen guys up and work through a few combinations as we work our way through the pool.
"Hopefully it will be a cohesive performance, because it will need to be against Japan because we know how good they can be."
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Although he was name-checked by the coach once or twice, Carty did not appear to be on Schmidt’s radar until Andy Friend’s arrival in Connacht triggered a resurgence in form from the Athlone native.
Schmidt called upon him for the Six Nations and has been impressed with his ability in stepping up.
"He's very calm, he doesn't get ruffled easily. He doesn't get distracted by an error he might make or distracted by people trying to put pressure on him. He stays in the zone incredibly well," he said.
"For us, with Jack, there's a lot of confidence from the coaching staff and from the players as well.
"So, the spectrum of skills he brings; obviously I've mentioned his angled kicking game, for us to get out of our '22 on the weekend, he put through that ball on the ground. I think he's got a bit of a running game, he takes the ball to the line like he did against Wales and links up with the players.
"That's another attacking threat he brings.
"Defensively, we've been really happy with the progress he's made in Connacht in recent times and now with the national side."
Conor Murray will partner Carty on Saturday, having already played with him a number of times at this stage.
And the scrum-half is looking forward to playing alongside the new man in who is making his second Test start against the Japanese.
"He's quite a calm character, Jack, which is good to have outside you," he said.
"Like anyone that comes into the set-up there's a pressure to learn and step up on you and he's responded really well to that.
"He's got to grips with the way we play, the tactics and phase-calls and what's expected of him.
"That laid-back nature has aided him in coming into an environment like this and learning off the likes of Johnny and Joey, who is actually younger than him but has been around the set-up for a while.
"So, yeah, I'm excited to play with Jack. He takes it in his stride, he's played really well any time he's been given the chance whether in the Six Nations or the summer series, coming over here and coming on last weekend he did really well.
Asked what Carty has done to earn the trust of the coaches, defence coach Andy Farrell hailed his ability to cope with the huge amount of information required to play for this Ireland team.
"Because international rugby is a pressure occasion for anyone, especially when you're coming into a side when you're new to the environment and you've heard from the outside what it's like," he said..
"All of a sudden you're in the mix and you either sink or swim, don't you?
"With all the information you've been given that everyone is unbelievably comfortable with, I think Jack's strength of character is one of not just his work ethic to get across his detail, but also being himself.
"That's the most important thing. You want to see guys who are in pivotal positions being able to retain the information but also see the game as it is unfolding and he's comfortable with doing that."