Following a string of impressive performances over the festive period, Connacht out-half Jack Carty finds himself in Ireland’s first squad of the World Cup year over in-form Leinster man Ross Byrne.
Carty attended Marist College in Athlone before completing his education in NUIG. Like many players, rugby didn’t dominate the 10’s childhood. The Connacht man represented Roscommon at minor level as well as lining out for the Republic of Ireland at underage levels up until he was 15.
On top of that, he was also offered a trial at Premier League club Southampton. Before leaving Marist, Carty managed to represent Ireland and Connacht in rugby at underage levels as well.
Throughout his early career for the Western province, Carty lined out for the Connacht Eagles in the British and Irish Cup. His debut came off the bench in September 2012 against the Glasgow Warriors, while still in the academy. He made his first start for the club in January 2014 against Leinster.
Carty became Connacht’s first choice out-half at the start of the 2014-2015 season following the retirement of Dan Parks. Since then, Carty has cemented himself as the number one playmaker in the province, although he found himself behind AJ MacGinty during the US fly-half’s time in Galway. Already Carty has racked up 119 appearances and over 600 points for Connacht at just 26. He is now an established senior member of the squad.
Not all has been plain-sailing for Carty during his time in Galway. While on holiday in February 2016, he suffered a bizarre injury on a water slide in Dubai. The Athlone man ruptured his spleen, and later had it removed and spent a week in hospital in Dubai. During his recovery, he lost 13kg. The accident forced him to spend 10 weeks on the sidelines and watch his teammates lift the Pro12 for the first time.
While Carty got back playing at the end of the 2015-2016 season, he was unable to break his way into the match-day 23. Despite the fact that he travelled to Murrayfield for the final as 24th man, the ex-Marist man finished the season thinking of what “might have been”.
Carty was part of the Ireland u20 squad in 2012. However, he only earned four caps due to the presence of Paddy Jackson and JJ Hanrahan in the squad. Prior to being named in the Six Nations squad, the Westerner has previously been brought in for one and two-day camps by Joe Schmidt to see the standard required to be named in a squad.
Six Nations Hopes
Based on the fly-halves selected by Schmidt, one would infer that Carty is third-choice 10 in the current squad. However, there is no doubt he will eye up pulling on the green jersey for the first time. Working daily with World Player of the Year Johnny Sexton and young Joey Carbery will significantly improve the Connacht man’s game.
The Roscommon native will have to be aware of competition from outside the squad also, with both Billy Burns and Ross Byrne in good form. There is no doubt that this level of competition will push Carty and allow him to reach new heights and lay down a marker for Japan.