Sunday 24 February 2019

Carbery: I'm staying

Patience has been virtue for versatile 22-year-old

Happy to stay: Leinster’s Joey Carbery is content to bide his time behind Rob Kearney and Johnny Sexton
Happy to stay: Leinster’s Joey Carbery is content to bide his time behind Rob Kearney and Johnny Sexton

The rumour mill that has Joey Carbery taking a one-way ticket to Munster or Ulster has no basis in fact.

The understandable need for the southern and northern provinces to swell their out-half options is a persuasive argument for greater game time.

In fairness, the 22-year-old has never wavered in his 'straight as an arrow' response that he has no interest in looking for a second home.

"The coaches have good confidence in me. I'm pretty happy where I am, to be honest.

"I don't see myself moving," he said.

The Leinster playmaker, from out-half or full-back, is all about the game of patience.

The announcement last week that Rob Kearney has extended his contract up to, but not beyond, the 2019 Rugby World Cup gives Carbery a solid enough timeframe for his rise to first choice at Leinster, even for Ireland.


For the moment, Carbery is willing to stay in his lane as cover for Johnny Sexton and Rob Kearney for Ireland.

The Athy native has started two of ten international caps and not played out 80 minutes in either, being limited to 69 minutes from four impact roles for Ireland through the Six Nations.

There have been matches in which Carbery has been called on by Joe Schmidt to close the show, most notably against New Zealand in Chicago in 2016 and England in Twickenham two weeks ago.

The talking up of confidence in Carbery has been backed-up by putting him in for big moments.

"If we're only winning by a small amount that's when teams are really chasing it," he said.

"To be put on then and know the coaches know you can do a job, is hugely encouraging."

The pecking order is not quite as clear for Leinster where Carbery was looking every inch first choice at fifteen earlier in the season.

Back then, he started six matches at full-back, two of them against Monptellier and Glasgow in The Champions Cup, hearing the final whistle on five occasions.

It was then that the fickle hand of fate, through injury, caused disruption to his rhythm.

The Carbery mantra is all about the learning process under Schmidt or Stuart Lancaster.

"Being in camp for nine weeks is pretty draining," he said, about the Six Nations window.

"It's a long time to be away and out of your own bed.

"I suppose it does make it better at the end having done all that preparation and for it to pay off."

Back at Leinster, he was given 23 minutes to keep Leinster in front of the hard-charging Saracens.

It is one thing being out there. It is another to contribute in a meaningful way as Carbery did with a beautiful kick that kept Saracens pinned back.

"It is tough because when you start a game, the first five minutes you kinda get a feel for what the game is going to be like and what the other team is going to be bringing.

"But when you are a sub, you kinda have to observe and get a feel for what might be happening - like the line speed and the tempo.

"The mindset you have to have when you are going on is to try and fit in, and then you can build on it - adapt and get used to it and then try as quickly as possible to start playing."

The Grand Slam has given Leinster - and Munster too - even greater motivation to see out the season successfully.

"I think getting that taste of silverware made everyone more hungry to taste it again," he said.

"If you look too far ahead, you might become a bit complacent or you might get ahead of yourself.

"It is a great situation and, if you use it to encourage you and excite you, that's a huge positive.

"We've definitely got more appreciation for what it's going to take to win. We've got the bit between the teeth."

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