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'The lads know how good he is, and can be, so there's a bit of a buzz around the place'

Joey Carbery is an exciting addition to the Munster mix.

Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

FAMOUSLY, CONOR MURRAY has not played very often with Joey Carbery. However, he has trained with Munster’s new out-half often enough to get excited about the prospect of linking up with him in red.

Carbery and Murray started in tandem as Ireland’s half-backs for the first time in the opening Test of the series against Australia. That game would end in a loss for Ireland, but a steady 57-minute start for the Murray-Carbery axis – that ended with Ireland ahead on the scoreboard – was more than enough to whet the appetite in the southern province for the season ahead.

Certainly, the majority of club and provincial encounters won’t pit the playmakers with quite as ferocious an onslaught as the Wallabies set upon Ireland’s nine and 10 in Brisbane.

“He controlled things really well in that first Test. 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,” says Murray, taking one last look back on the season past after a week back in training in Fota Island.

“He steered the ship. He is a really good player, a really good fella, 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, being in this week is very important for him to get to know everyone and we’re living down here for the week, so he’ll take a few steps forward.”

Captain Peter O’Mahony has also been impressed with Carbery’s assurance borne out of precocious talent, though the Corkman challenged the Athy man to keep learning and growing as he has done under Johnny Sexton.

Conor Murray with Joey Carbery Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“For a guy who is 22, he certainly plays like a guy who is in his late 20s. Doesn’t get flustered, he’s well able to lead a team,” says O’Mahony, who would know.

“He’s got so much more in him, so much more to go… he’s been under Sexton, 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.”

While Carbery has been Ireland’s clear second-choice out-half for the past year, he can expect to feel quite a bit of pressure for Munster’s 10 jersey, despite already being christened ‘ROG’ by his international team-mates in Australia. He is one of five out-halves in the southern province and of the quintet, only Bill Johnston is yet to occupy first-choice placing on the carousel, while Ian Keatley, JJ Hanrahan and – if fit – Tyler Bleyendaal will also hope to take hold of the reins.

“The other 10s have their own motivation about what they want to do,” says Murray, “and Keats has been there for a long time, JJ 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 (in recent seasons):  we didn’t have the depth we need. (So) that, if someone takes a bang, someone else can step in and really do a job. They’ll be fighting it out.”

CJ Stander, Conor Murray and Peter O'Mahony Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Available exclusively from Life Style Sports, Conor Murray, Peter O’Mahony and CJ Stander were pictured at the launch of the 2018/19 Munster Rugby alternate and European jersey, to join the conversation and discover the design inspiration for the jerseys, follow @lifestylesportsrugby and #LIVEMUNSTER. The jerseys and supporter range are available in Life Style Sports stores nationwide and online with next day delivery from www.lifestylesports.com.  

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Sean Farrell

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