Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO
KICKING INTO THE almighty gale blowing directly in his face, Joey Carbery was striking them sweetly. The trademark kick of the right leg, and the hop as he follows through. You could tell it was him a mile away.
While this injury lay-off came at a frustrating time for the 22-year-old, three fractured bones in his left wrist haven’t stopped him using the extra time away from the structured team sessions to work closely with Richie Murphy on his place-kicking.
The Ireland skills and kicking coach was overseeing a short session at the RDS this morning, during which Carbery fired balls off the tee from different ranges and angles away from the pressure of matchday.
“It was pretty tough out there,” he laughs, having dried off and warmed up inside the press conference room. “Barely getting them over from the 22 with that wind.”
Carbery is in good form, though.
Having had the cast and splint removed from his wrist, tomorrow he will return to on-field training with Leinster six weeks after sustaining the injury during the second half of Ireland’s November international against Fiji.
“It’s not the worst injury for keeping on top of place-kicking,” he says, referring to the extra sessions he has been doing with Murphy over the last few weeks.
“I’m pretty confident and the more I work on it the better I’m getting. Hopefully, I get a bit more time on it in a match scenario. In training, we’re putting ourselves under as much pressure as possible to simulate match conditions. I’m pretty happy with how it’s going.”
Is Murphy giving you pointers out there or how does it work?
“It’s kind of more about nailing down the basics and keeping that consistency going with the kicking and every chance I get, hopefully, make a point and prove myself,” Carbery explains.
“I’ve just got to keep my head down and work hard and get this wrist right.”
Source: Oisin Keniry
A return isn’t too far away, but there’s still work to be done and markers to be hit.
The out-half/fullback will resume running with his team-mates in UCD on Thursday but it remains to be seen how long it will take him to get back up to speed for full contact from there.
Before Christmas, and post-surgery, there was concern over one bone in particular — the scaphoid — as it is crucial to the way the wrist moves, and failure to allow that to heal properly would potentially affect Carbery’s passing in the future.
The scans have come back clear and the doctors, he says, are happy but it is now a case of wait and see as Carbery is eased back into training.
“There’s no upsets but the only thing that I can really do is get out there and test it,” he continues. “It’s kind of trial and error to see how it copes.
“All going well hopefully I’ll be back in the next couple of weeks. It’s always good to get a bit of time at home and take it easy a bit and not have a game over Christmas — but I’m all holiday moded out now and just want to get back on the pitch.”
Carbery is, understandably, reluctant to put a specific timeline on his return, but you’d imagine Leinster’s final two Champions Cup pool games against Glasgow and Montpellier will come too soon for him.
Then, the Six Nations opener against France on 3 February comes into sharp view, leaving Carbery with a small window to get back and into Joe Schmidt’s plans.
“If I get picked (for Ireland), I get picked. I’d like maybe a week or two of training under my belt, that week before the first Six Nations game would be a good time to get a load under my belt as well.
“I suppose I’ve just got to see what happens. It’s out of my control, really.”
For the first time, the frustration of the lay-off and subsequent uncertainty is evident: ”It’s pretty tough, but it is part and parcel of the game. It’s a pretty physical game.
“It’s probably an annoying time to get injured but hopefully now I’m on the flipside of it and can remain injury free for the next year or two.
Source: Morgan Treacy
“I was just getting a bit of time at 10, even with Ireland, and it would have been good to get a few games under my belt.”
Still, he remains positive.
After a stellar 2017 — during which he added three more caps to his international tally and produced some standout performances for Leinster, most notably at the start of this season — Carbery has had time to re-assess his goals going forward.
“You have a few definite things to work on as well as a few achievements,” he adds. “Just to be patient and keep working hard and that hopefully if you work hard, things will happen. Not trying to force things and just learning as much as you can each day.
“For Leinster, it’s at the stage now where we’re in a good position to be winning silverware so fingers crossed that we keep working hard and maintain the momentum over the next couple of months.”
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