Munster's Joey Carbery hopes the pain won’t be in vain

Joey Carbery may not be happy to take the late hits but if it frees up a teammate then he will continue to endure the pain for the Munster cause.

Ireland fly-half Carbery is set to make his first start for his new province alongside fellow summer signing Tadhg Beirne this evening when Ospreys come calling to Musgrave Park for the third round of the Guinness PRO14 campaign.

It is a much stronger-looking home side given the returns of captain Peter O’Mahony to the back-row and wing Andrew Conway as head coach Johann van Graan augments his squad with a quartet of internationals while Munster will also welcome back South African openside Chris Cloete for his first game since a fractured forearm against Glasgow ended his debut season last February 23.

It is last Friday’s clash with conference rivals Glasgow, however, that resonates most deeply with van Graan and his players as Munster bid to atone for a 22-0 first-half wipeout and eventual 25-10 defeat at Scotstoun seven days ago.

There are 11 changes from that away loss as the province prepares for a first competitive outing on its new modified 3G playing surface, although the last wave of Test returnees, CJ Stander and Keith Earls, will most likely get their seasonal debuts next Friday at Cardiff Blues.

Carbery, though is up-and-running, making his second appearance off the bench in Glasgow for Munster following his summer move from Leinster, his excellent footwork causing angst to both the Cheetahs in round one and then the Warriors, although, Munster only managed one second-half try for all the opportunities created.

Van Graan noted three late hits Carbery received from the Glasgow defenders but the 22-year-old took a positive spin on the tactic if officials miss or ignore the ill-discipline.

Hopefully, they see it but I suppose if they’re going to come out and try and take me out then hopefully there’s going to be space somewhere else for someone,” Carbery said. “It also shows that I’m doing my job.

Carbery is well aware that his first start for Munster has been eagerly-awaited by supporters and that there is an expectation on him to make the difference between a side just falling short as it did last season in two semi-finals, and winning silverware for the first time since 2011.

“I’m not looking at it like that,” he said. “I’m trying to block that out of it. All I can do is concentrate on week-on-week performances so I’m just focusing on the Friday and the Saturday of each week and if we can take four or five points.”

Like van Graan, Carbery is encouraged by the second-half performance in Glasgow and confident that the chances created can soon be converted into points on the board.

It’s still the start of the season and there are different combinations coming in and it takes a while to gel but it’s really positive that we’re clicking a bit more now. Obviously, it was a disappointing result on Friday but there were so many opportunities created and if we were more clinical we could have taken the game.

Aside from the four Irish stars and Cloete, who suffered a groin injury in pre-season, van Graan has rested inside centre Rory Scannell, bringing in Dan Goggin to partner Sammy Arnold in midfield while Carbery is joined in the half-backs by Duncan Williams, who replaces the injured Neil Cronin. There are seven changes to forward pack, Arno Botha the only survivor from the Scotstoun defeat.

When asked about the Ospreys threat following their two home victories over Edinburgh and Cheetahs to start their campaign, van Graan waxed lyrical about the experience of Alun Wyn Jones and new signing George North but neither feature in the squad head coach Allen Clarke will field tonight as they bid to arrest awayday problems that saw them win only twice away in the PRO14 from Liberty Stadium last season.

MUNSTER: M Haley; A Conway, S Arnold, D Goggin, D Sweetnam; J Carbery, D Williams; J Cronin, R Marshall, S Archer; T Beirne, D O’Shea; P O’Mahony - captain, C Cloete, A Botha.

Replacements: M Sherry, D Kilcoyne, J Ryan, J Kleyn, T O’Donnell, J Hart, I Keatley, J Taute.

OSPREYS: J Hook; T Williams, J Thomas, C Allen, L Morgan; S Davies, T Habberfield; R Jones, S Baldwin, T Botha; G Nemsadze, A Beard; O Cracknell - captain, M Morris, S Cross.

Replacements: I Phillips, N Smith, A Jeffries, J Ratti, G Volpi, M Aubrey, T Thomas-Wheeler, H Dirksen.

Referee: Stuart Berry (South Africa)

*All-Ireland camogie champions Cork will parade the O’Duffy Cup as Munster’s special guests this evening. The squad and trophy will be presented to the crowd at half-time.

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