By Charlie Mulqueen
Joey Carbery faces the biggest challenge of his still fledgling Munster career at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday when he faces his old Leinster colleagues.
Before making a belated decision to pursue his career down south, the New Zealand-born, Kildare raised Carbery expressed a desire to stay with Leinster until he was convinced his prospects of international recognition would be best served by moving to Munster.
He now insists that he is delighted at having accepted the advice. And his confidence is sky high after a couple of man- of-the-match performances highlighted by a cracking try last week against Ulster and an 18-point contribution.
Quite obviously, Carbery is familiar with much of Leinster’s tactical planning and what makes his famous opposite number Jonny Sexton tick. However, Munster coach Johann van Graan insists he wouldn’t go down the route of insider trading.
“No, it is all about respect and I’m certainly not going to ask him for the names of their moves and the way they do things,” the South African insisted. “This is a new game, a new season and it moves on.
“If our focus was to get information out of Joey, then I don’t think it’s the right way to go about things.
“It’s about us and the way that we want to move forward. I believe if you focus so much on those other things you will chase your tail.
“His integrity is so good so it’s not even a question that we’re going to pose to him. Our focus is on us and how we are going to beat them.
Examining the video of how Leinster dealt effectively last week with a fired up Connacht team only hardened van Graan’s belief that this could be one of his side’s toughest assignments of the entire season, their prospects not helped by having won only once in 10 years at the Aviva.
“I don’t think it’s a big focus for us,” he claimed. “So it’s a new week and a new game against quality opposition. You have to think outside the box against them. Let’s call their defence the secret of their team. They don’t really commit a lot of guys to the breakdown. They are very comfortable to defend 10, 20, or 30 phases and once they get that turnover, they punish you.
“A lot of teams have come trying different things against them: some guys try to keep the ball in hand; some go to the air; some went with a breakdown focus and some went in with a variety of stuff. The important thing for us is that we play our game.
“Obviously we want to get some momentum and get some points on the board, but when they are good is when they get their noses in front, they stay there. You have to build a scoreboard pressure against them.”