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Timing a curse for Carty as he keeps his mind on provincial life

The out-half felt mentally refreshed after an enforced break, but would love to get a run of games in the weeks ahead.

Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

THIS CAMPAIGN HAS been a severely testing one for Jack Carty.

Having celebrated his international debut in the first half of 2019 and earned a spot in Ireland’s squad for the World Cup in Japan, the 2019/20 season proper has provided only a dull thud as he landed back to earth.

Home comfort indeed, Carty returned to Connacht to find Conor Fitzgerald hungrily gobbling at every opportunity after his move out of Munster. His head coach could see the Roscommon man struggling to pick up a second-fiddle he had not held since Connacht’s title-winning season. And while Carty showed some flashes of his innate skill, there appeared to be a sense of hesitation, a second’s thought in fundamentals that he previously made look so natural.

The 27-year-old would not have called a time-out on himself, but the IRFU’s player management programme necessitated it for men who travelled to the World Cup. He returned from the enforced rest for the 7-21 loss to Toulouse on Saturday. He was unable to turn the tide and found himself pressured and charged down for a crucial try, but was most certainly at the heart of every positive play Connacht did put together.

“It was probably one of those things,” Carty said post-match in the Spotsground “I didn’t realise how mentally fatigued I was up until that point.

“The performances that I put in up until (Saturday) were probably a bit up and down and that was disappointing.

“I probably struggled when I came back from the World Cup, so just to get that rhythm going again after the break that I had was welcome.”

The sight of Carty deftly chipping a loose ball from turf into his hands with his left foot, or using those subtle hands to deliver a perfectly-timed pass to meet a charging Paul Boyle, was welcome evidence that Carty is cleansed of the travails in Japan and poised to guide Connacht on.

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The sickener is that their next meaningful match is over a month away. The break to come between the dead rubber in Montpellier and the Pro14 clash with Cardiff will be welcomed by the province as a whole. But after sitting out two games by a top-down directive, Carty wants anything but another rest.

“I would prefer to have a run of games now, but probably the week after next it will be another two weeks, but I’ll look forward to getting back to it then.”

Lamenting another rest window ahead means Carty is holding little hope of receiving a late call to Andy Farrell’s Six Nations squad. While Joey Carbery and Jonathan Sexton are currently sidelined, Ulster’s Billy Burns was also called to Farrell’s Christmas ‘stock-take’ ahead of the 10 who started against Japan in September.

“I’m not really looking at (Ireland chances) at the moment. I’m trying to play as well as I can here and that’s what got me to where I was last year but up until today it was a bit up and down.

“That’s an outcome that will happen down the line if I can manage to string consistency back into my game again.

jack-carty-arrives Source: Tom O'Hanlon/INPHO

“There were parts I was happy with today. Obviously, there were a few little things which let me down — the pass to T (Tiernan O’Halloran) was disappointing and then obviously the charge-down so they are things that need to be ironed out before I look at anything else.”

He adds: “Disappointed but I think I had to be realistic as well. They were a lot of fellas who were playing good rugby and obviously I had a limited amount of time from the World Cup until I got back and when you are given an opportunity to play then you have to play and at times I probably wasn’t playing as well as I should be and wasn’t getting up to the level I was playing at last year.

“I’m happy to have ironed out a few of those issues and looking forward to getting back and playing consistently again.”

“I spoke to (Farrell) before the last camp and we had a good chat.

“Look, I’m not going to pull the wool over my own eyes when fellas are playing week in, week out, I know I need to be doing the same.

“That’s what drive you to be a better player. That’s what I need to do, play well week in, week out.”

About the author:

Sean Farrell

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