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Munster urge patience with Carbery but back him to return to his best

The 25-year-old made his return from a long-term injury last Friday in Cardiff.

JOEY CARBERY’S FIRST touch last Friday night gave us a little reminder of some of the qualities he brings – the delay of the pass, the challenging of the Cardiff defence before he released the ball to Calvin Nash.

Then came the firm tackle from Rey Lee-Lo just after the pass, the powerful Blues centre welcoming Carbery back into professional rugby after over a year on the sidelines. 

Many Irish rugby supporters would have winced, but Carbery was back on his feet swiftly and got through his 16-minute comeback without any complications.

The high point was his conversion from wide on the right, a kick no one would have blamed Carbery for missing, but one that underlined his determination to leave a positive impression on his comeback. Calm and in the groove, the 25-year-old slotted it.

Already, many fans have been imagining Carbery back as Munster’s starting number 10. They can see him muscling into the Ireland frame again and challenging Johnny Sexton at out-half or perhaps combining with him to add another playmaking option for Andy Farrell’s side.

In Munster, they have been stressing the need for caution and patience. Any player coming back from a long-term injury like Carbery’s ankle issue – which dates back to August 2019 – needs time to find their feet. 

Munster boss Johann van Graan understands the excitement around Carbery but he has underlined that the Athy man is still on a journey of recovery. All going well, van Graan believes that journey will bring Carbery back to his best pre-injury self.

“Firstly, I guess the main thing is that you just have to look at his upper body and see that he’s had a very long time in the gym,” said van Graan.

johann-van-graan-and-joey-carbery Carbery and van Graan in UL. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“He looks in fantastic physical form. In terms of the rugby part of his development, Joey is a true pro. That’s why he started playing international rugby at a very young age.

“He’s a very good example to others so I think the biggest credit that I can give him is that he’s exactly the same as he was before he was injured – very focused and quietly confident as to where he and this team needs to go.

“In terms of the ankle, I’m no medical person. Like I’ve said before, a lot of credit has got to go to the Munster medical staff and the IRFU medical staff that have worked together in getting him to this place.”

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“In terms of getting back to his best, all evidence at this stage suggests that yes, he can. It’ll be a journey. You don’t just go from not playing for 13 months to getting back to Test standard.

“He will make mistakes along the way like every player in rugby does. He will have some good games and he will potentially have some average games. Obviously, we hope that he has a great game every time he puts on the jersey.

“I’ve got a lot of belief in Joey and so does the rest of the team. I think that’s an important message from our side – for me and for us, it’s all about the team. He has bought into the club and where we want to go and the journey that we are on.”

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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