Simon Zebo has told reporters that Joey Carbery is set for a “big season” with Munster.
Simon Zebo and Joey Carbery are two international class Irish rugby players who, in different circumstances, might be preparing to play a part in the upcoming Rugby World Cup in France.
Instead, the two talented showmen are back in pre-season training at Munster’s High Performance Centre at the University of Limerick.
It’s not an ideal situation for either player but fresh off the back off a United Rugby Championship triumph, they can at least begin working, planning and thinking their way towards clinching back-to-back titles.
Munster’s URC defence won’t open until October 21 due to the World Cup, but speaking at a Vodafone event, Zebo has already offered supporters an insight into what to expect.
Simon Zebo tips Carbery to bounce back.
The province’s record try-scorer reckons that Carbery will respond to the disappointment of tumbling down Munster’s pecking order last season by remodelling himself as a more demanding number ten.
Zebo says that Carbery has shown a newfound fire in Munster training this summer to demand higher standards from those around him and approach the game with a steelier determination.
“He’s been ripping it,” Zebo explained to journalists at the Aviva Stadium. “Now when I say ripping it up, he’s been on fire.”
“He got a bit of a rocket last year and his mindset has changed.
“Even the way he’s talking in training sessions – if somebody doesn’t run the line right, in the past Joey would let it slide. Now you see him getting frustrated.
“I’m not trying to say he turns into Johnny or anything – but that desire – now he’s not accepting another fella not knowing his role and him looking bad. He’s not taking any kind of BS.”
Zebo went on to outline how Carbery is a player heavily dependent on confidence; saying that his performance levels can vary significantly depending on his headspace.
“His variation in his game, his confidence in his game – like, if he’s not confident, Joey can’t pass the ball accurately or kick accurately.
“But when he’s feeling confident and the players around him feel good he’s one of the best. He can be world-class on this day.”
Those confidence levels couldn’t have been helped by the blow of losing his starting jersey under the new Munster management team led by Graham Rowntree.
Carbery was the tried-and-trusted option for much of Johann Van Graan’s reign but a new Munster selection policy which placed huge emphasis on form cost the 27-year-old his position during the 2022/2023 campaign.
“Maybe he went from being number one with us under Johann (van Graan) and Steve (Larkham) for so long, and then a new coach comes in and suddenly you’re not that anymore, and there’s younger lads pushing you,” said Zebo.
“I think that might have caught him off guard maybe. It’s not like he was playing badly or anything, it’s just that other lads got an opportunity and took it.
“From what I’ve seen in the last couple of weeks Joey will have a big season.”