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Carbery excited to pick the brains of childhood influence Larkham at Munster

The Ireland out-half sees a correlation between his career and that of the new Munster senior coach.

WHILE LAMENTING THE departure of two home-grown coaches in Jerry Flannery and Felix Jones from Munster, Joey Carbery’s feelings on the summer coaching changes at the southern province are twofold. 

Losing two long-serving members of staff is always going to be met with initial disappointment, particularly when Carbery describes both Flannery and Jones as ‘two very nice guys’, but Munster moved swiftly to fill the Thomond Park vacancies.

Stephen Larkham Larkham won 102 caps for Australia. Source: INPHO

The double recruitment of Graham Rowntree and Stephen Larkham to join Johann van Graan’s coaching team, with the promise of another addition before the new season starts, appears, on paper at least, to be an excellent piece of business by Munster.

Rowntree, currently working with Georgia ahead of the World Cup having built up an impressive body of experience with England and the Lions, fills Flannery’s shoes as forwards coach, while former Wallaby Larkham takes over from Jones, although officially in the role as senior coach. 

The addition of two high-calibre international coaches to the Munster coaching ticket is an exciting development for the province, with both Rowntree and Larkham expected to bring fresh ideas and energy to the set-up, further complementing the work of van Graan and defence coach JP Ferreira.

Larkham’s appointment is particularly eye-catching given his own playing career, experience in coaching with the Brumbies and Wallabies and the role he can play in developing Munster’s much talked about attack. 

Carbery, for one, is looking forward to picking the former back’s brains when he arrives in Limerick.

“Hopefully I’ll sit down with Larkham a good bit now,” the Munster out-half said this afternoon. “He was another pretty good rugby player when I was growing up.

“I would have watched him a good bit, he was a pretty good player. It was pretty cool that he played a bit of fullback as well and moved into 10 a bit later. I can see the relevance there so it would be great for me to work with him on a personal level but then, when he was coaching with the Brumbies and Australia, you could obviously see the way he played in the way that the teams were playing. He seems to be a guy who coaches on instinct and what he sees which is pretty cool to see. 

I can probably pick his brain on things, like did he have any cues to see space or something like that. That’s always a big thing in today’s game, being able to pick the right option; whether you run, kick, or pass. Being able to play in space, what you see, and seeing it early and giving you the time to get your method in place.

Overall, Carbery is encouraged by the addition of two high-calibre coaches and says it reflects both Munster’s growing ambition under van Graan and the perception of the club from the outside.

“It was very sad to see Felix and Jerry go,” he continued. “Two very good guys and two great coaches as well. They’re going to be a huge loss but it’s great to see those type of calibre of coaches coming into Munster because it just shows from both sides of the coin that everyone is pretty ambitious and willing to go that extra bit which is great.”

All going well, Carbery won’t get the chance to work with Larkham until November as the 23-year-old’s focus centres on the small matter of this Autumn’s World Cup, with the Ireland squad now a week-and-a-half into preparations at Carton House.

Joey Carbery Carbery pictured as part of Avonmore Protein Milk’s ‘You’ve Got This’ campaign. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Joe Schmidt’s extended training panel convened at their Maynooth base last Sunday week, as the long build-up to Japan begins in earnest ahead of four summer warm-up games in August and early September.

Carbery enjoyed a three-week trip to America with his girlfriend after Munster’s season was again ended on the penultimate weekend of May by Leinster, in a game he made his comeback from a frustrating hamstring injury in.

While admitting he had to keep on top of his rehab on holidays, the Ireland international says he has felt no ill-effects from the problem which forced him to miss large chunks of the second half of his first season at Munster.

“It was a nice break, yeah,” Carbery explains. “We had three weeks off, so I went over to California for 18 days and did a bit of travelling around there which was pretty cool. I got away for the majority of it and then came back and felt pretty refreshed. It was nice to get away and clear the head a bit.

You’re given a programme to do when we’re away. A running and gym programme. You have to enjoy your time off as well so the first week I took it completely off and then you just build it back up towards it. It’s obviously very important to keep your body healthy and fit but you need to mentally switch off as well.

On the back of a hugely progressive first year at Munster, Carbery — who recently signed a long-term contract extension with the province — admits he heads towards the World Cup full of confidence, having played 15 times and scored over 150 points in red last term.

“I was pretty happy with the season,” he adds. “Obviously, the hamstring injury towards the end was pretty disappointing. I loved it down there and I think the potential within the squad is huge. So, yeah, it was a really good first year.

“I do think I’m in a pretty good place when it comes to that stuff. Feeling pretty confident and it’s going to be a big summer of training to try and get the body and mind right, but I’m pretty confident going into the next couple of months that if I’m called upon, I should be ready.”

Joey Carbery was speaking at the launch of Avonmore Protein Milk’s new blueberry flavour.

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Ryan Bailey

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