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Joey Carbery: Why I said no to Ulster and signed for Munster instead

By Jonathan Bradley

Munster-bound Joey Carbery has explained that he chose Thomond Park over Ulster as he believes it is a better opportunity.

The 22-year-old confirmed he will leave Leinster for Limerick at Ireland's Carton House training base yesterday in what was an expected move but still one that represents a bitter pill for the northern province to swallow.

Having lost their starting No.10 when Paddy Jackson had his contract revoked, incoming head coach Dan McFarland still has only 21-year-old Johnny McPhillips to call upon at present.

When Carbery leaving Leinster was first mooted - primarily in a search for game time given Johnny Sexton's pre-eminence - Belfast was his speculated destination and the Athy native admitted yesterday that there had been interest.

While Ulster were encouraged by the initial indication that he'd consider the move, as they waited to see if he could be persuaded they lost out on the signing of a foreign out-half when a deadline set by the proposed import's representatives passed without action.

That Munster then came in with a more attractive proposition has left Ulster's cupboard still decidedly bare, but Carbery says the decision was motivated purely by rugby.

"Yeah, that was an option," he said of Ulster's interest. "I suppose it was a personal decision. I thought the opportunity would be better down in Munster.

"I was going off the cards I had in front of me. That was why I made the decision.

"The game time, getting more of an influence at 10, that's the big thing, but I know people down there too, they'll make things easier.

"Just getting to play more regularly is the main reason. It's purely a rugby-based decision. I'm excited for the opportunity.

"I feel it's been a tough few weeks, my head's been a bit fried trying to get all my cards on the table. I've had the help of some really good advisors, giving me confidence, telling me a few things.

"My friends live in Leinster, all my friends, my girlfriend are all living in Leinster. That's the tough part, but this decision was purely based on rugby. So that's what it is.

"I know myself I need to develop, Leinster have got me to a stage now where I feel like I'm just about ready. Now I need to go out and develop even more.

"But it was a self-based decision with my dad being my closest advisor. I've been chatting to him a lot and he's had a few sleepless nights as well as me.

"It's purely based on the opportunity of playing 10. That's what it came down to, and going out of my comfort zone I suppose is going to be pretty tricky.

"It's going to be tough but I'm a rugby player and I've got to concentrate on my rugby."

It is believed that Carbery will sign a two-year deal at Thomond Park, although yesterday he indicated that the terms had not been finalised - indeed, he had only come to a final decision on the move on Wednesday ahead of flying to Australia with Ireland for a three-Test series that begins in Brisbane next Saturday.

"That's all being ironed out, all I've told them is my decision," he said. "That's what they're waiting for, it's all out of my hands, I just wanted to get my decision out there. I just wanted to get it out before getting on the plane, so I could have a clearer head."

Carbery met with Munster coach Johann van Graan before making the decision - something he perhaps wouldn't have been able to do at Ulster given the uncertainty over when McFarland will actually start work - and said he took great encouragement from the introduction.

"I met up with him and he's a really good guy," he said. "I felt like I connected with him and he seemed like a really honest guy, which I like; someone I can go to, especially if I'm living away.

"I'm going to need someone who's a good advisor, who I can trust and just have chats with, even not regarding rugby. I felt like he could definitely be that person I could talk to, so I really liked him."

One person who had less of a role than widely thought, says Carbery, was national coach Joe Schmidt.

With Carbery the back-up to Sexton at Test level as well as at the RDS Arena, it is understandable Schmidt would prefer to see him in the No.10 jersey more often, especially as the World Cup nears. The player, though, says he initiated the contact.

"He wouldn't have told me what to do," he said of Schmidt. "He was more an advisor. I contacted him about meeting up, you guys have seen that picture.

"It was more just to get his opinion because me and my dad had never gone through anything like this and he has been in the professional game for a long enough time that he'd know.

"It was good just to get his insight on it. I just wanted to get my decision out there before I got on the plane so I could have a bit of a clear head."

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