Carty looking to press on having passed his first test
Connacht man thrilled to make his international bow in the victory over Italy
Ireland’s Ultan Dillane with a happy debutant Jack Carty after the victory after Italy in Rome. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Jack Carty took inspiration from a moment of acute sadness, recalling a conversation with his cousin Brian (28) who passed away this time last year that helped to redefine his outlook when it came to rugby.
Standing in the bowels of the Stadio Olimpico, just over an hour after winning his first Ireland cap, he paid homage to his cousin.
“It was a thing in the last 11, 12 months where I put my head down. I didn’t want it to be ‘what if?’ scenario. “Before he [Brian], a close cousin, passed away he said, ‘don’t have any regrets or anything like that’. That’s something that’s spurred me on.
“I’m delighted for my family but his family as well. It’s been a tough time for his family and my family. I’m delighted that I can dedicate this cap to him.”
He travelled with a sizeable entourage.
“I have seven in my family, so two sisters, two brothers, my parents, my niece, my brother-in-law, my girlfriend and my sister’s boyfriend,” – they all travelled to Rome.
“Then I’d four mates from Athlone who [came over]. I’m delighted to get a few minutes at the end for all the work they’ve done and all the support they’ve given me over the years.”
It was a decent if brief cameo – he came on after 77 minutes – but more importantly a vindication of a player who has recalibrated and polished elements to his game to earn the opportunity.
He knew that he would be in the matchday squad when Joey Carbery tweaked his hamstring in the final pitch session of the week, offering a reward for hard work and perseverance as well as demonstrating an aptitude to elevate his game, performing consistently for Connacht on a weekly basis.
He said: “My game over the last couple of years has been up and down. There’s been a dramatic improvement in consistency in the last 10, 12 months and I suppose that was cutting out little errors and then probably getting the finishing edges to a couple of things.
“My kicking percentages went up and(I was just trying to get myself in front of players when they’re running at me; I was probably falling off a few tackles [prior to that]. They’re two things you can evidently see with Connacht.
“I’ve been given a licence to kick a bit more and find backfield space. Friendy [Connacht coach, Andy Friend] says that whatever weapons we have, he’ll back that. That’s the way I like to play, heads-up rugby and I’m lucky I have a coaching ticket in Connacht and here in Ireland that reward that.
“There would have been ups and downs with inconsistency and probably being a little bit too flamboyant at times but I’ve managed to rein that in and play percentage rugby, while still managing to have that bit of flair and bring the ball to the line.”
He’s relished the challenge of being in Ireland camp and having to acclimatise quickly.
“It’s been a really steep learning curve, trying to learn all the plays and a new sort of system. It looks quite similar but the way I’d be used to playing, it’s a bit different.
“You’re trying to understand the way that Joe [Schmidt] and Andy [Farrell] want you to play in attack and defence, it is quite different. It’s good having a few of the Connacht lads there and obviously getting on the laptop, it was quite easy from there.
“The monkey is off the back and I can finally say I’ve played for Ireland and now build for two, five, hopefully 10 caps after that.”
In keeping with the tradition of a player making his debut, he’ll have to sing a song. He’s chosen Stand by Me something that he’d no doubt like as a theme going forward; club and country.