Car­bery is forced to play wait­ing game

Out­half’s hopes of be­ing fit for Six Na­tions in doubt after bad break

The Irish Times - - Rugby Champions Cup - Johnny Wat­ter­son

It is his first ca­reer arm break. A rib yes, lig­a­ments and mus­cles too but never an arm. Just as Joey Car­bery bright­ened up an evening in Aviva Sta­dium against Fiji, his Six Na­tions, or at least the be­gin­ning of it, ap­pears to have fallen into shadow.

Car­bery’s left arm is in a cast. Three bones are bro­ken just above the wrist and the scaphoid, be­cause of the blood sup­ply, is the one that will fo­cus med­i­cal at­ten­tion as the heal­ing process la­bo­ri­ously con­tin­ues.

He had surgery the day after the match and three screws were in­serted to hold the bones in place.

Right now he is frustrated and hope­ful but even the kin­der cal­cu­la­tions will prob­a­bly keep him out of the early Six Na­tions games, the first against France in Paris on Fe­bru­ary 3rd and then Italy at home the fol­low­ing week. There are then two weeks be­fore Ire­land face Wales in Dublin on Fe­bru­ary 24th.

No one more than Car­bery craves some cer­tainty but all of it, his en­tire come­back sched­ule, is still up in the air.

Pretty an­noy­ing

“I have to get out of the cast and see how it has healed,” says Car­bery. “So it’s de­pend­ing on how well it has healed. Hope­fully it is not too far after the new year.

“Once I get out of the cast I am go­ing to be in a splint. So it could be an­other eight weeks from the day I get the cast off or it could be three weeks. We just don’t know. I hope it’s quickly be­cause it is pretty an­noy­ing at the mo­ment.

“I’d love to get two or three games be­fore the Six Na­tions, so I can re­ally get back into the run of it.”

It is bru­tal tim­ing given Car­bery’s nat­u­ral élan in the po­si­tion and how he can change the land­scape go­ing for­ward from out­half.

But Ian Keat­ley, still a bet­ter kicker, has shown poise and put in enough mileage to back up Johnny Sex­ton.

It was a sim­ple col­li­sion that caused the break. Car­bery was car­ry­ing the ball in his right hand and tried to fend off a tackle from the out­side cen­tre.

The two play­ers fell with the heav­ier Fi­jian, Jale Vatubua, 6ft 2in and over 19 stone landing on the Ir­ish out­half’s arm caught be­tween the two bod­ies. The arm, says Car­bery, “just went the other way”.

“Yeah, 13 lined me up in the first half as well,” he says. “That was a sore one. I’d say their tack­ler at 13 is def­i­nitely the hardest I’ve ever been hit.

“It was in­stant pain. But I thought it might have been just a bang. Then I looked down and it was a bit flimsy so I was like ‘there’s some­thing wrong here’. I broke three bones.

Main fo­cus

“The scaphoid, which doesn’t get too much blood flow, that’s prob­a­bly the main fo­cus, the one they’re most wor­ried about. That’s why I’ve got to wait and see. It’s only a small bone but it’s quite cru­cial to the way the wrist moves, so pass­ing and stuff could be af­fected if it doesn’t heal prop­erly. That’s why we’re kind of un­sure.”

It is go­ing to be a fea­ture of Car­bery’s rugby life to take the hard tack­les at pivot, a dif­fer­ent type of hard than at full­back. The Fi­jian hits came just as he was vul­ner­a­ble and re­leas­ing the pass.

More ath­letic and elu­sive than ro­bust or durable, he ex­plained that as kids in New Zealand they played matches in bare feet and up to un­der-13s were graded ac­cord­ing to weight not age. Over 50kg and younger than 13 and kids were put into a dif­fer­ent weighted team.

Never skinny Car­bery, who at out­half or full­back, will also miss Le­in­ster’s Euro­pean block of games and the derby matches.

“Me play­ing full­back when Rob [Kear­ney] has been in­jured prob­a­bly worked out best,” he says of the po­si­tional debate. “I would have loved to have been in­volved in the next two weeks play­ing against Ex­eter and stuff. I would have loved to get a bit of game time at 10.”

Fate would have it that way, for Car­bery and as much too for Le­in­ster out­half Ross Byrne.

‘‘ Yeah, 13 lined me up in the first half as well. That was a sore one. I’d say their [Fiji’s] tack­ler at 13 is def­i­nitely the hardest I’ve ever been hit

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.