Munster stars Conor Murray and Peter O’Mahony have backed summer signing Joey Carbery to be a success at his new province following a move from Leinster.
Scrum-half Murray and Carbery combined at half-back for Ireland under the captaincy of O’Mahony in the opening Test against Australia in Brisbane seven weeks ago, the 22-year-old fly-half’s first start against a Tier-One rival in his 12th international.
It was also his first game since announcing his decision to leave his home province and join Munster in search for regular gametime at number 10, having been used by Leinster primarily last season as a full-back.
Both Murray and Munster skipper O’Mahony, speaking at the Life Style Sports Munster jersey kit launch yesterday, believe that despite Carbery’s relative inexperience, the new boy has the maturity and confidence to prove a big hit in his new surroundings.
“I’ve trained with him an awful lot, played with him a bit, I think that’ll hopefully help him to settle in,” Murray said.
Murray said Munster’s week-long training camp at the Fota Island resort near Cork city was helping to accelerate the integration of all the province’s new signings, with Carbery joining full-back Mike Haley, scrum-half Neil Cronin and forwards Tadhg Beirne and Arno Botha. “Joey’s very confident in his ability, he’ll have no issues settling in or telling people what to do, I don’t have any fears for him, he’s settled into his role very well, being in this week is very important for him to get to know everyone and we’re living down here for the week, so he’ll take a few steps forward.”
O’Mahony added that Carbery will need no looking after as he settles into life at Munster’s High Performance Centre in Limerick and the red jersey.
“He’s well able. For a guy who is 22, he certainly plays like a guy who is in his late 20s,” O’Mahony said. “He doesn’t get flustered, he’s well able to lead a team and the beauty of it all is that he is only 22. He’s got so much more in him, so much more to go.
“He’s had a huge amount to learn, obviously, he’s been under (Johnny) Sexton, he’s had a great mentor in him and will continue to do so for a long time hopefully. He’s come around other guys in our squad now who have a lot of experience and who can share a lot of ideas and work well with each other and hopefully, kick us in the one direction.”
For all Murray’s time with Carbery on the Ireland training pitch, their gametime as a half-back combination had been limited to the fly-half’s appearances off the bench as a replacement for Sexton until their June 9 start against the Wallabies.
It was Ireland’s only loss, 18-9, of an otherwise stellar season that brought the Six Nations Grand Slam and an eventual 2-1 series win in Australia yet when Carbery was substituted for Sexton on 57 minutes in Brisbane, he had kicked his country into a 9-8 lead and Murray was impressed by his Carbery’s performance.
“He controlled things really well in that first Test. That game started ferociously. The two of us took a few heavy hits and Australia seemed to be putting a lot of pressure on us. He kept his head and stayed composed and grew into the game and eventually did really well. I don’t know what the score was when Johnny came on for him but we were in the lead. He steered the ship. He is a really good player and a really good fella. So there’s huge potential there.”
Murray also offered the reminder that Carbery would have no divine right to the 10 jersey with a quartet of senior fly-halves already in Munster, JJ Hanrahan, Ian Keatley, Tyler Bleyendaal, and Bill Johnston.
“All the other 10s have their own motivation about what they want to do, and Keats has been there for a long time, JJ had a really strong finish to the season and he’ll be looking to continue that momentum. It’s definitely not written down on the team sheet, those lads have an awful lot to play for, and you need that, a competitive squad, that’s what has probably let us down in the past, that we haven’t had the depth we need, that if someone takes a bang someone else can step in and do a really good job. They’ll be fighting it out.”