Munster confirm 'gutted' Joey Carbery will miss entire Six Nations

‘He’ll be back, he’s a class man and a brilliant rugby player,’ said head coach Johann van Graan.

MUNSTER’S JOEY CARBERY could be sidelined for up to four months after surgery on a wrist ligament injury, meaning he will definitely miss Ireland’s entire Six Nations campaign.

The luckless Carbery had only just returned to Munster’s starting team on Friday night against Ulster in the Pro14 after recovering from an ankle issue, but he will now be out of action for another extended period with the new wrist injury.

joey-carbery Carbery was injured again in Friday night's clash with Ulster. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

The latest blow is a devastating one for Carbery, who had hoped to help Munster in their must-win Champions Cup clash away to Racing 92 in Paris on Sunday.

The 24-year-old also had high hopes of featuring prominently in the Six Nations for Ireland as the new Andy Farrell era gets underway.

However, Carbery could now be out of action until April after undergoing surgery to remedy his wrist issue.

“That’s rugby, I’m gutted for Joey as an individual,” said Munster boss Johann van Graan in Limerick today. “I care about the players and speaking to him on Monday afternoon when we got the news, obviously it’s not nice news for him.

“He worked hard to get back into the position, he played the full 80 for the first time for quite a while and now he is out for a considerable amount of time.

“That’s rugby, that’s life. He’ll be back, he’s a class man and a brilliant rugby player. He’ll come back stronger, take his time and I can’t wait to have him back in the future.”

JJ Hanrahan’s fitness now looks crucial for Munster ahead of Sunday’s clash with Racing, a European pool tie that the province must win to keep their European campaign alive.

Hanrahan missed last weekend’s defeat to Ulster with a hamstring issue and van Graan insisted there is no guarantee the Kerry man will be back this weekend, though Munster are hopeful.

“I’d say 50/50 is a good way to put it,” said van Graan. “Importantly, he wants to be ready. He is an experienced number 10, he knows the team needs him for possibly 80 minutes so he needs to be at 100% to perform.

“He’ll always put the team first. If he’s ready on Friday and his body is ready then he’ll tell us. If not, he’ll put the team first and it’s next man up.”

If Hanrahan does miss out, Munster will start either 20-year-old academy out-half Ben Healy or regular inside centre Rory Scannell in their number 10 shirt.

“We as a group back whoever is in,” said van Graan. “Ben has grown quite a lot over the last few weeks – he’s been part of gameday warm-ups, he’s been part of the squad and Rory has trained there.

“We’ve been in this position quite a bit, we’ve literally had one fly-half and when we’ve had 6/2 split [on the bench] Rory was covering in any case. It’s not something new for the team, we’ll just back whoever is in that position on Sunday.”

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Van Graan said Munster will not be looking to bring in a short-term signing at out-half with Carbery and also Tyler Bleyendaal sidelined with a neck injury.

“No, not at all. We’ll back Ben and Jake Flannery who hasn’t been mentioned at all. He’s been out injured since the U20 World Cup, but he can play 10 and 15 and did a bit of training last week, he’s doing in full training this week.

“You’ve got to back your young guys, that’s two potential guys for the future and if we can get them opportunities on the pitch, we will. That’s someone I’m certainly excited about, Jake.”

Meanwhile, wing Andrew Conway and fullback Mike Haley remain slight doubts for Sunday’s game.

“Andrew did a bit of team training today, we’ll make a call on him on Friday,” said van Graan. “Mikey, we’ll take it day by day as well, I believe he’ll be ready for Sunday but we’ll make all of these decisions on Friday.

“The way the draw worked out, we played on a Friday and we’ve a nine-day turnaround so that extra two days does help.

“We’ve got a squad, whoever is selected on Friday will go to Paris and will go with real intent and excitement against a quality side in Europe. For this season, in Europe, it’s our biggest game yet.”

Munster have made three changes to their European squad ahead of the meeting with Racing, bringing in 20-year-old scrum-half Craig Casey, back row Gavin Coombes, and hooker Diarmuid Barron in place of Alby Mathewson, Tadhg Beirne, and Jed Holloway.

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Murray Kinsella

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