Belfast Telegraph

Carbery returns to the RDS head over heels in love with Munster

 

Right at home: Joey Carbery has enjoyed his time both on and off the pitch since joining Munster
Right at home: Joey Carbery has enjoyed his time both on and off the pitch since joining Munster

By Ruaidhri O'Connor

Fifty-one weeks ago, Joey Carbery was preparing to take on Munster while weighing up whether to join them.

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Having come off the bench in Leinster's Champions Cup final win over Racing 92 in Bilbao, he started his home province's Guinness PRO14 semi-final victory over their neighbours and played a role in their final victory over Scarlets.

Then he made his move.

It was announced in unusual circumstances as the youngster walked into a room full of journalists at Ireland team hotel and said, "I've decided to go down to Munster".

He said his head had been fried but, having been encouraged by Joe Schmidt and persuaded by Johann van Graan to go south and pursue some game-time, he took the plunge.

A troublesome hamstring has played havoc with the latter half of Carbery's season, but he is fit again in time to face his old team-mates with the initial doubts long gone.

Carbery has gone native and, even with more than a year remaining on his initial two-year deal, he's committed himself until 2022. On the pitch, he has been a success, and he is enjoying himself off it.

"I think it was mutual," he says of his decision to extend. "Both parties were pretty keen on it happening. From a personal side, for Munster to want me for another three years is pretty cool. I'm settled here."

He is reminded of his initial reticence that day in Carton House when the big decision appeared to weigh heavily on his young shoulders.

"I suppose it was so fresh and raw when I announced it that I was pretty unsure of what was going to happen," he said. "But the way the lads have taken me in and looked after me, I've loved it from the word go down here.

"It's definitely been as good as I could have expected it. I love it down here. I love the people, they've made me feel very welcome and I'm loving playing rugby down here as well.

"So, look, the potential is roof-less - we can get wherever we want to. It will take work and time but it's something we've definitely got."

Carbery's positivity about Munster stands in stark contrast with the mood around the province now that Felix Jones and Jerry Flannery have abruptly decided to leave.

The out-half is saddened by their departures, particularly that of Jones.

"The hours he puts in behind the scenes and his knowledge… as a player, to have someone to sit down with you and go through everything with you - it makes my life a lot easier having (Felix) around," he said.

"He'll be sorely missed."

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