Joey Carbery gives a glimpse of his Munster future against Gloucester

Joey Carbery gives a glimpse of his Munster future against Gloucester
Joey Carbery. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Before kick-off at Kingsholm tonight, Donncha O’Callaghan declared during his punditry that it is time for Joey Carbery to put his stamp on this Munster attack.

Such a task is no easy feat for a 23-year-old player, who has only been with his new team since the summer after joining them from Leinster.

However, on tonight’s evidence, Carbery is beginning to exert his influence in a manner his opposite number, Danny Cipriani, would be proud of.

Like Carbery, Cipriani only joined his new club, Gloucester, in the summer but the 31-year-old has already modelled the whole team in his image.

“He is not only there on match day. He will talk to you during the week, he will tell you exactly what he wants, when he wants and where he wants it,” said Cipriani’s injured team-mate Jaco Kriel.

He is very direct in his communication. They call him coach Danny. If he is not there, they say we’ve got a coach missing. He is very precise in what he wants and I believe that is what some of the players like about him.

In many ways head coach Johan Ackermann has given Cipriani the keys to the car and it is up to him how he drives it.

That has involved the fly-half taking the ball flat and playing close to the gain line.

Cipriani has studied his team-mates too, working out how best to utilise their skills in attack, and when he starts statistics show Gloucester score twice as many tries.

That ability to model a team in his image has been a trademark of Cipriani throughout his career and it is perhaps why Wasps look so lost without him this season. Even All Black Lima Sopoaga has not been able to plug the gap.

It would be unreasonable to expect Carbery to already have such an influence at Munster, not least because he is eight years Cipriani’s junior. However, in a hostile atmosphere, he gave a glimpse of the future tonight.

There was a maturity to Carbery’s performance that showed he more than has the temperament and composure to lead a team at this level.

His penalty after 20 minutes was stroked over with ease and his try four minutes later was taken with aplomb. By half-time, the 23-year-old had slotted another penalty and claimed an assist too.

Danny Cipriani tackled by Chris Farrell. Photo: INPHO/Gary Carr
Danny Cipriani tackled by Chris Farrell. Photo: INPHO/Gary Carr

His tally of 26 point was impressive, but equally so was the manner in which Carbery went about it. At Leinster, he was used to playing in an attack that enjoyed getting the ball out wide and exploiting the space there.

That is not the way at Munster and Carbery has moulded his game to suit his team-mates - tightening up instead of going wide.

Admittedly it helps when you have a bruising pack in front of you, which includes the likes of CJ Stander, but Carbery is wise enough to know when to let them crash the ball up and when he should step in.

That showed for Munster’s try in added time at the end of the first-half, when Carbery let phase after phase of forward play take place - before stepping into the line and delivering the killer pass that put Rory Scannell in to score.

It was a taster of how slowly but surely Carbery is beginning to make the number 10 shirt his own. With a strong pack in front of him and the world class Conor Murray too, the fly-half is cleverly using the tools available to him.

Carbery is like a captain on a ship - steadily turing the rudder left and right to ensure the huge juggernaut keeps on going in the right direction.

To do that, you have to exude calmness and Carbery did just that tonight as we saw he has added control to the flamboyance he showed in his youth.

There was still the odd piece of trickery and skill, as shown by his expertly weighted kick for Andrew Conway’s try and his own interception score. However, Carbery showed off a high level of game management as well as flair - and that was just as impressive.

Tonight was supposed to be about Cipriani putting in a match-winning performance as he returned from injury after four weeks out.

Instead it was Carbery who ran the show and that looks like a sight Munster fans should get used to seeing in the coming years


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