Van Graan hopeful Carbery will be with Munster for long term
Coach says he sold the outhalf his dream about the future of the province when he moved
Joey Carbery and Johann van Graan at the Munster squad’s training session at UL, Limerick. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Munster coach Johann van Graan says Joey Carbery joined Munster without coercion after he sold the former Leinster outhalf his dream about the future for the province.
Carbery signed a two-year deal with Munster this summer, and according to his new head coach, the province are keen to build the team around him for the long term – not just as a stop-gap measure until Johnny Sexton vacates the Leinster No 10 shirt.
With last year’s European and PRO14 champions, Carbery was used in both the fullback and outhalf positions, but van Graan sees Carbery as his key pivot in the short and long term – although he predicts he won’t have as much access to his international players in the run-up to next summer’s World Cup.
“Most definitely. That’s why we got him, as a 10,” said van Graan. “He also doesn’t come with the expectation of being the starting 10. He knows he needs to earn that position and that was evident from day one in the fitness test.
“I didn’t try and convince him to come to Munster. I sold him the dream of Munster and where we want to go. It’s something that he found appealing and that’s why he came to Munster, I believe. Hopefully he’ll still here for a very, very long time.”
Munster start their pre-season campaign on Friday night when they welcome London Irish to Musgrave Park with its newly laid 3G pitch, but they can expect to frequently plan without many of Joe Schmidt’s squad in the weeks ahead.
Fifteen of van Graan’s side are in Ireland camp this week, and the coach admits he will need to test the depths of his squad this season as Schmidt attempts to have his squad in peak condition for the summer.
“It’s also a World Cup year, so player management from Ireland will be pretty important,” said the coach.
“All credit to Joe and David and all of the Irish staff, we’ve been through all of that. Obviously Ireland’s important and Munster’s important too, so that communication has been brilliant.
“They’ve got an extra Test match in November, they’ve got a Six Nations and they’ve got a preparation for the World Cup at the end of the season so I think the management will be key and the planning from our side will be key.”
As well as international duties, van Graan has injuries to contend with and this Friday he plans to have 30 players to chose from. Tyler Bleyendaal (neck) hasn’t played since February and Munster continue to take a conservative approach with his recuperation.
Jack O’Donoghue will be out until Christmas at best as he recovers from a very serious knee injury sustained in Munster’s last game of the season, while it is hoped Chris Farrell (ACL) will return in time for the Heineken Cup.
“Jack tore most of his things in his knee in the first-half in the semi-final against Leinster. Best-case scenario we’ll see him early in the New Year around Christmas time,” said van Graan.
“We are very conservative with Tyler. He had a neck operation and we’re just taking it day by day. I envisage it will still be quite a few weeks before he is on the field.”