Andy Farrell has explained that Jack Carty’s improved running game has seen the Connacht fly-half earn a place in Ireland’s Six Nations squad.
Carty hasn’t played for Ireland since the 2019 Rugby World Cup, but the 29-year-old will get an opportunity to win his first cap in more than two years in the coming weeks, having been included as one of three fly-halves in his country’s squad.
Ireland captain Johnny Sexton will start at 10 against Wales in the Six Nations opener if fit, but Carty could find himself on the bench for that game, given his recent form for Connacht and Joey Carbery’s lack of game time in the last month or so.
Head coach Farrell was speaking at the Guinness Six Nations virtual media launch and revealed that Carty’s “ball in hand” playing has come on leaps and bounds since he last played for Ireland.
Andy Farrell on Jack Carty.
“Obviously over the course of Jack not playing for Ireland. It’s great to see Jack dust himself down and take things on board and knuckle down and have the courage to adapt and to add to his game,” Farrell said.
“The way that Connacht are playing has certainly helped him do that and I think he’s been pretty brave in keeping his head down and pushing and not giving up. He’s got his rewards for that.
“Everything’s a little bit different but his game management has always been strong, his ball in hand has certainly come on a lot and he’s always been a good, aggressive defender.
“The game control thing has always been a point of difference for him, playing with ball in hand, playing at the line, taking guys with him and staying connected, that has certainly come on a treat.”
Jack Carty was on a mission for @connachtrugby yesterday ?
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) December 20, 2021
Ireland are aiming for Six Nations glory in 2022.
The men in green had a mixed Six Nations last year, having finished in third place by winning three and losing two, but Ireland’s expectations will be much higher ahead of this year’s championship based on their form in the Autumn Nations Series.
Ireland have won eight matches in-a-row, picking up wins against the likes of New Zealand, England, Scotland and Argentina, and will head into the Six Nations with plenty of confidence.
For that reason, Farrell believes a championship triumph is well within Ireland’s reach, although he believes it would be foolish to make any predictions before the Six Nations even kicks off.
“What’s a good tournament? It makes me laugh when coaches say that we want to finish second or third, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want to finish first,” Farrell commented.
“So we’re no different than any other team in the competition in that respect but I think ultimately we want to kick on as a group and kick on with how we want to play the game. We want to push new boundaries for ourselves.
“We want to play every game as quickly as we possibly can and so does every other team. I’m sure about that. As that say, each game takes their own course and certainly when you’re trying to predict how things are going to go in the Six Nations, I think you come away with egg on your face.
“There’s so many different variations isn’t there? Whether it be momentum, whether it be discipline, red cards, bonus points, whether it be the weather – you’ve got to be adaptable and flow with the punches.”