Joey Carbery feels ready for first Six Nations start after injury nightmare

Joey Carbery says he is “mentally and physically” ready for his first Guinness Six Nations start following multiple long-term injuries during his career.

By Sports Desk
Thursday, 10th February 2022, 8:05 pm
Updated Thursday, 10th February 2022, 8:08 pm

The Munster fly-half has been drafted into the Irish team for Saturday’s trip to France after captain Johnny Sexton was ruled out by a hamstring issue.

Carbery underwent surgery on a fractured elbow in December, having previously been sidelined for almost two years of Test rugby following the 2019 World Cup.

“I think anyone who’s been through a long-term injury knows how difficult it is, so to come through that helps me to definitely enjoy the good things in life,” said the 26-year-old.

Joey Carbery, who says he is "mentally and physically" ready for his first Guinness Six Nations start

“To be honest, I’m just delighted to be back playing and to be back out there injury-free.

“I’m just relishing the whole environment of going into such a big game and it just puts everything into context really when you’re back playing and you’re not out injured.

“Having gone through that I definitely feel mentally like I’m stronger for it.

“I’m really excited for the weekend now. I feel like I’m ready to go, both mentally and physically.”

Carbery returned to the international stage last summer for wins over Japan and the United States following a lengthy ankle issue.

He again proved himself an able deputy for the influential Sexton in the autumn, coming off the bench to kick three crucial penalties in the 29-20 success over New Zealand before starring from the start in victory against Argentina the following week.

Having missed the last two Six Nations campaigns and had the aforementioned elbow problem threaten to thwart his chances this year, Carbery is determined to seize his opportunity.

“I’ve obviously been involved in a few Six Nations campaigns before but I’m looking forward to getting a start from the go ahead,” said Carbery.

“I’m just going out to do my job and help the team the best way I can.

“Every time I can get a start and game time under my belt it’s hugely beneficial. Having November and having the summer Tests behind me leaves me in a good spot going into this weekend.”

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell expects Sexton to be in contention for the round-three meeting with Italy on February 27.

Carbery has never previously faced Les Bleus and is tasked with steering the Irish to their first win at Stade de France since 2018, when they went on to clinch a Grand Slam.

“I think anyone would get nervous before any big game – I definitely do,” he said.

“There will always be that but when you think back to what you’ve been through and the training, it gives confidence to me in particular and confidence to the players around me.

“In the environment I’m in, it’s so competitive anyway. In training everyone is trying to put their hands up so all I can do is put my best foot forward and go from there.”