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'He's a special player. He's a special footballer' - Carbery shines for Munster

Johann van Graan was pleased with how his out-half has settled with the province.

Murray Kinsella reports from Kingsholm

PLENTY OF THE pre-match chat around Gloucester’s ground focused on the return of Danny Cipriani, with the home fans and English journalists looking forward to seeing what impact he could make on his comeback from a chest injury.

While Cipriani had some nice touches, there was only one out-half being discussed post-match as Joey Carbery showed his ever-improving class in a superb performance in Munster’s number 10 shirt.

Joey Carbery celebrates scoring his second try with Andrew Conway and Chris Farrell Andrew Conway and Chris Farrell celebrate with Carbery. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The 23-year-old has rebounded impressively from a tough day away in Castres a month ago, stringing together three strong showings against Leinster, Connacht and Gloucester.

Those three games have seen Carbery kick all 17 of his shots at goal, score 56 points in total, beat six defenders, provide two direct try assists, prompt several other successful attacks, and generally show major composure.

Carbery is only 13 appearances into his two-year contract with Munster but already the move from Leinster last summer – which Ireland boss Joe Schmidt was integral to – looks like a masterstroke for Irish rugby and, most definitely, for the southern province.

“He’s very calm, very collected and he leads the pack and the backline well and it’s class playing with him,” said Munster number eight CJ Stander at Kingsholm on Friday night.

“He’s just so calm and when you look back at the fly-half and he’s calm, that’s what you want.”

Encouragingly for Munster, the players around Carbery are making his life easier.

The forwards carried with immense effectiveness against Gloucester to provide him with excellent possession, while backs like Chris Farrell, Rory Scannell and Keith Earls are taking some decision-making pressure off Carbery in phase play.

Those factors are helping Carbery’s glorious individual skillset come increasingly to the fore.

“He’s a special player,” said Munster head coach Johann van Graan of Carbery after his team’s 41-5 win. “He’s a real threat to the gainline. He’s a special footballer.

Joey Carbery, Rory Scannell and Alby Mathewson after the game Carbery, Rory Scannell and Alby Mathewson post-match. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“The fact that the forwards get momentum makes it so much easier for him, he gets the ball on the front foot.

“And the fact you have a very good decision maker at 12 in Rory Scannell, that’s a second receiver and you also have someone like Chris Farrell at 13, all of a sudden their defence can’t come that hard and it helps if you get wings working off the ball too.

“We want to improve our attack, we have said it many times. Sometimes we’re good and sometimes we’re not. We want to play an all-round game.

“If it rains and it’s bad conditions, you have got to play a different game. We saw the pitch out there tonight and we knew it was going to be fast and I thought we adapted our game well from minutes one to 80.”

Carbery’s ability to adapt on the move, most notably for the sublime grubber kick that allowed Andrew Conway to score a second-half try is riveting to watch and van Graan will hope his out-half continues to grow.

Schmidt, meanwhile, must be enjoying watching Carbery’s development as an out-half.

Having made just a single start at out-half for Leinster last season, Carbery already has 11 starts in the number 10 shirt for Munster and is clearly learning rapidly. His goal-kicking quality is also showing progress and it all bodes well for the future.

Along with fellow new signings like Tadhg Beirne and Mike Haley, Carbery is helping drive Munster towards something fresh and exciting.

“The biggest thing about that is that everyone who comes into a Munster team knows that the jersey is not there for you to take, it’s there to work hard for and leave in a better place,” said Stander.

“The boys came in and, in fairness, they worked hard and they’re taking their chances and working hard for that jersey. That’s what we want in this squad, for everyone to work hard and put their hands up and give that performance week in, week out.”

- This article was updated at 12.23pm to correct “one one-half” to “one out-half” in the second paragraph.

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Murray Kinsella

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