Jack Carty relishing Connacht leadership role after penning new deal

Outhalf sets sight on more Ireland caps after earning call-up following Sexton injury

Jack Carty has noticec the Conacht and Ireland styles of play becoming more similar. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Jack Carty has a point to prove when Connacht return to URC action on Friday night against the visiting Ospreys at the Galway Sportsground.

Although only called into the recent Ireland camp as cover following Johnny Sexton's injury, Carty is now revelling in both his leadership role with Connacht, and playing fast attacking rugby.

The 29-year-old, who penned a three-year extension to his Connacht contract, is enjoying his improvement “as a player, and as a leader”, while also being close to his family in Athlone where his post-playing future awaits in his family’s meat business. He also believes the current squad is as good as that of 2016 when Connacht won the PRO12 trophy under Pat Lam, and with a new pitch and stadium on the horizon, Carty did not want to have any regrets if he decided to leave.

“I am enjoying where we [Connacht] are and where we are going. I wouldn’t be the biggest talker, but I like to think I lead by my actions, and from that Munster game I thought I showed that by getting stuck in and the relationships you have with the refs, being a presence, I clearly enjoyed it. I’d like to think it has benefited my game, because I’m more engaged.”


Not always comfortable with leadership – believing it “took away from what I was trying to do as player” – he says it is a different Connacht now.

“The way we are playing, it does feel there are lots of game managers on the pitch. There is a collective understanding of what we are trying to do. Once it was maybe down to nines and 10s to manage, but now there are five or six players, so it allows me to look after speaking to referees and my own performance.”

He is also enjoying Connacht’s new attacking game, similar to the national team.

“Now I feel I can get my hands on the ball, and ask questions of defenders, as well as look for kick space. The element of the running game is definitely something that I have enjoyed, and carrying the ball to the line and putting players through holes. I just feel I have freedom maybe that I did not have before.”

It also keeps him in contention for another Ireland call-up, as happened prior to Argentina.

“Even just keeping my face in the picture. Touch wood, I have been fortunate with injuries, so I was just happy to get in and see how they are changing things.

“The way we are training here, there are a lot of similarities. Previously when going in, I would have been blowing in sessions, but to see the intensity is quite similar between the two, it is certainly something that means we are doing good stuff here.”

Connacht coach Andy Friend says if Carty's form continues, it will be hard to omit him from future Ireland fixtures. "Having suffered some hurdles that he has overcome, Jack has continued to grow and develop his game, both on and off the field, becoming an integral part of the team.

“His form this year has been outstanding. I think he has really come into his own with his kicking game. The 50:22 law is made for Jack because he has a beautiful long kick. I think the way he has adapted to the new attacking style, carrying the ball has been impressive, and his defence, which was probably previously an area that you could say needed to improve, he has been as brave as all this year and that’s been great to watch.

“I also know the Irish coaches do see that, and also he has had feedback from them. At the end of the day Carty and Andy (Friend) don’t select the team, but the longer Jack Carty puts on those sorts of performances consistently, the harder it is to leave him out I believe.”