These are the pictures Munster supporters have been waiting a long time to see, Joey Carbery back in training.
The exciting fly-half has not played in 55 weeks and managed just 103 minutes in red since returning from Ireland’s 2019 World Cup campaign with an ankle injury first sustained in a tournament warm-up against Italy.
The 25-year-old’s rehabilitation, and a subsequent wrist injury, has led to a number of false dawns that last August saw Munster medics recommend an indefinite period of time away from rugby.
Speaking in a video interview on the Munster website posted 13 days ago, Carbery said of his time on the sidelines: “Yeah, it’s been pretty tough. It’s never nice being injured but hopefully things change soon.”
And as the pictures taken on Tuesday at Munster’s High Performance Centre in Limerick shows, Carbery took part in some elements of training with the province adding that the former Leinster playmaker’s next stage of rehabilitation from that ankle injury will see him “manage his training load”.
There will still be no rush from Munster to press Carbery back into action until he is absolutely ready but Tuesday’s developments bode well for a return before too long.
More immediately, there was some less positive injury news ahead of Saturday’s rescheduled Guinness PRO14 clash away at Benetton. Hooker Rhys Marshall and loosehead prop James Cronin have both been ruled out of the trip to Treviso, Italy, each having sustained knocks to the knee last Saturday night in the 13-10 Thomond Park defeat by Leinster.
Munster will also be missing 10 players on international duty with Ireland ahead of the Six Nations, one of them Cronin’s fellow loosehead Dave Kilcoyne.