Joey Carbery ready to slot in wherever he can for Ireland

The 23-year-old has recovered from a twisted ankle and could cover a number of positions

Ireland’s Joey Carbery, Jack Carty and Jack Conan take part in a training session at the Ichihara Suporeka Park ahead of the Rugby World Cup. Photo: Charly Triballeau/Getty Images

Ireland’s Joey Carbery, Jack Carty and Jack Conan take part in a training session at the Ichihara Suporeka Park ahead of the Rugby World Cup. Photo: Charly Triballeau/Getty Images

 

“I’m just glad I got invited to Joey’s press conference,” says Sean Cronin when someone took pity on the veteran hooker. “Thanks Joey.”

Everyone is glad to be in the slipstream of such rare talent.

Joey Carbery’s badly twisted left ankle against Italy on August 10th has healed enough to train and turn upon it since Monday morning.

Appearing before the assembled media in Yokohama is no guarantee of fitness nor selection, but there’s a presumption that the 23-year-old will see minutes off the bench against Scotland on Sunday in Ireland’s opening Pool A game.

With Rob Kearney and Keith Earls struggling to tick the “protocol” boxes Andy Farrell spoke about to enable their unlikely selection, the Aucklander of Athy extraction has the ability to finish games at fullback might prove the essential ingredient for Ireland to get this World Cup off to a victorious start.

That’s not the only position he covers. The third scrumhalf, where he played regularly until Leinster under-18s, he flung a few passes from the base this week but there hasn’t been a spare moment to run reps anywhere but at outhalf.

“Well, I’ve only trained this week so it’s only been really in around 10-ish,” he said. “Haven’t had too much time.”

“10-ish” is a figure of speech but finding a slot for Carbery, anywhere on the field, be it outhalf, fullback – Kearney is expected to be replaced by Andrew Conway – or inside centre, when Ireland need the complete opposite to Bundee Aki under expected downpours, seems like a decision that will be taken sooner or later.

“Yeah I don’t mind. Adds another string to my bow. Where ever the management need me.”

How about running inside centre to Johnny Sexton’s outhalf?

“I haven’t been approached by the coaches about it at all so I suppose until I hear it from them I won’t look into it too much. I’d be more than happy to give it a go.”

The greatest outhalf to ever lace boots, Dan Carter, made his All Black debut at number 12 because in 2003 Carlos Spencer was still king. New Zealand rugby get their budding superstars on the pitch anyway they can. Beauden Barrett ran at number 15 until Carter’s epic international career ended in the 2015 World Cup final.

Stuart Lancaster was of a similar mind when Carbery was at Leinster, playing him fullback, just to get the kid Graham Henry presumed would be the province’s outhalf for the next “10 years” after seeing him in one training session.

Munster is Carbery’s tribe now. And Ireland. Not to see his name on Joe Schmidt’s bench would be a major surprise simply because his country needs him as much as they do Sexton or James Ryan.

“It’s great to be back training. The ankle is feeling pretty good. Couple of nervous days in between from when the injury happened. It’s great the ankle is healing itself.”

Time to play.

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