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'I'm excited to see Joey just being himself. He's one hell of a player'

The 26-year-old will make his first Six Nations start for Ireland tomorrow.

Carbery heading to Ireland training on Wednesday.
Carbery heading to Ireland training on Wednesday.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

IT HAS TAKEN until the age of 26 for Joey Carbery to get his first Six Nations start for Ireland and now it comes in the most thrilling of circumstances.

A confident France side at home in Paris, Ireland bouncing on the back of their own good form, the two leading Guinness Six Nations contenders going head-to-head early in this championship, and stepping in for Ireland’s captain and talisman, Johnny Sexton.

This is the kind of occasion that kept Carbery working hard through those long, boring, tough days of rehab during 13 months out of the game with an ankle injury. He would have despaired at times during that spell but now comes the pay-off.

He has had some big days with Ireland in the past, coming off the bench during their three wins over New Zealand, as well as making four appearances as a replacement in their 2018 Grand Slam campaign.

Capped 28 times, he has only started eight Tests for Ireland at out-half, including one against Australia and another versus Argentina, but this is by some distance the biggest of them so far.

It was sprung on him late in the week after Sexton pulled up with his hamstring injury during training on Wednesday, but this is the kind of chance that Carbery will have been craving. He would surely prefer to have more recent game time in his legs and lungs but has fully recovered from his fractured elbow and played 16 minutes off the bench last weekend against Wales.

joey-carbery-and-ross-moriarty Carbery came off the bench against Wales last weekend. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

These are not perfect circumstances. Yet Carbery has been waiting for this Six Nations shot and Ireland boss Andy Farrell said yesterday that he is keen for the Munster man to play his own game at Stade de France.

“I’m excited to see Joey just being himself,” said Farrell. “He’s a man of many talents and he’s one hell of a player. I just want to see him be himself, be super confident that he’s got to bring his own game to the party. He’s in a great place.

“He has been involved in some big games for us over the years and he’s had some downs with the injuries, but he has had a solid two-and-a-half weeks training with us. He knows exactly how we want to play as a team and we’re expecting him to deliver that like everyone else.

“I think his experiences [with injury] make him more hungry to get back on this type of stage and perform and be the player that he knows he is and wants to be.

“People obviously take the rough with the smooth as far as injury is concerned and they take their opportunity by preparing well. When the opportunity comes, they take it with both hands and that’s what the best of them do. This is an opportunity for Joey.”

Sexton travelled to Paris with Ireland yesterday and will have some input this weekend off the pitch, but James Ryan has taken over as captain for the France game.

jack-carty Jack Carty is on the Ireland bench. Source: Ben Brady/INPHO

Ireland centre Bundee Aki says the team have full confidence in Carbery’s ability to slot into the number 10 shirt and deliver.

“Nothing’s changed,” said Aki. “Obviously Johnny’s a big leader in our group and having him in there, travelling with us, it will be good for us to have him around.

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“Joey has evolved, he knows what he’s doing. I’m confident we will play well together.”

Connacht’s Jack Carty comes into an Ireland matchday squad for the first time since the 2019 World Cup and will hope for a chance to impact off the bench in Paris.

“I’ve been just as impressed with Jack,” said Ireland boss Farrell of Carty.

“When a player comes in and he’s trying to learn new systems, it maybe takes him five or six days or even longer, but certainly Jack’s had that now and he’ll be ready to come off the bench.”


Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

Gavan Casey and Murray Kinsella hit record for the second time in one day after news of Johnny Sexton’s injury, with Illtud Dafydd joining the lads on the line from Paris to give great insight into all things les Bleus.

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