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Carbery keen to put ankle frustration behind him against Samoa

The 23-year-old has only played 20 minutes for Ireland so far at this World Cup.

THIS WORLD CUP hasn’t seen the best of Joey Carbery.

In fact, this World Cup hasn’t seen much of Joey Carbery at all. After carrying an unfortunately timed ankle injury into the tournament in Japan, the Munster out-half made his return off the bench for the closing quarter of Ireland’s defeat to the hosts.

It was a tough task to come on with Ireland having just conceded the try that sent Japan in front and gave them major momentum with which to close out their thrilling win.

joey-carbery Carbery says his ankle is good to go for the Samoa clash. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Having last played seven weeks before, Carbery understandably rated his performance as “rusty” as Japan applied “immense pressure” to ensure he couldn’t inspire Ireland to overturn the deficit.

Frustratingly for Carbery, he then had to be withdrawn from last Thursday’s win over Russia, having been in line to wear the number 21 shirt and cover scrum-half, out-half and fullback off the bench.

Worryingly, Ireland reported that Carbery had suffered an “irritation” of his ankle issue, leading to concerns that the Athy man hadn’t fully healed from his initial injury and surgery back in August.

“It just took a bang, nothing more than that,” explained Carbery today. “That just made the joint all sticky, there was nothing serious at all. It just needed a couple of days to settle down.

“So it was obviously annoying to miss out on game time but thankfully it was nothing serious.

“I’m good, that little bit of a setback last week was frustrating, but I’m feeling really good this week, so I’m in a good spot.”

One can only imagine how frustrated Carbery has been in recent weeks. Having already had an injury-hit second half to the 2018/19 season with both country and province, Carbery played like a Rolls Royce for 49 minutes in Ireland’s first World Cup warm-up against Italy before suffering the ankle injury.

The ankle issue has clearly lingered on all the way to Japan and limited Carbery’s involvement so far.

“I suppose with the timing of the injury just before we left, and the nature of it as well, it was always going to be a bit of a frustration, but to be honest I was lucky enough to even be considered and that I did enough to get on the plane,” said the 23-year-old.

“So it’s been pretty good, to be honest. I’m happy to be here.”

joey-carbery Carbery in the gym with Ireland in Fukuoka. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Carbery’s 20-minute stint against Japan featured 12 passes, three carries, and two tackles and he was naturally not at his very best in the difficult circumstances.

While some, including this writer, felt Carbery had a glimpse of an opportunity to pass to Rob Kearney on one occasion down in the Japan 22 when he instead opted to duck back inside and carry, the playmaker himself is content with his decision in that case.

“There was a lot of pressure and, to be honest, I didn’t think it was on,” said Carbery.

“Looking back on it, I didn’t really want to shovel a bad pass or put Rob under any unnecessary pressure, so I just thought the best thing would be to regroup and go from there.

“There’s a lot of things you can go back and change if you could, but in the heat of battle it’s pretty tough.

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“And going back over it I probably still wouldn’t have passed, it was man-on-man, and I was a bit closer to the forwards than he was, so I didn’t want to isolate anyone.”

All in all, though, one senses that Carbery is simply eager to show exactly what he can do and help Ireland to deliver a strong collective performance.

Having been pulled against the Russians, he is now hopeful of getting a good run against Samoa on Saturday, when he could potentially back-up Johnny Sexton from the bench or perhaps even come on at fullback.

joey-carbery Carbery is keen to get a good run-out this weekend. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

He feels that his first season with Munster, and the increased exposure at out-half it brought, has made him a better player.

“It was good to play week in, week out at 10. You can get a feel for the players around you and know what does and doesn’t work for them.

“And then for my own game, just being able to see things a bit earlier as a 10 is pretty key. Then your decision-making always improves; if you make a decision in training you can rectify it and not let it happen on a Saturday.

“So learning from little mistakes here and there in training or in games has really helped me.”

About the author:

Murray Kinsella  / Reports from Fukuoka

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