Sean McMahon reporting from Hamamatsu.
Ireland out-half Jack Carty is set for a career milestone as he will start in his first World Cup match on Saturday when Joe Schmidt’s side take on Japan at the Shizouka Stadium Ecopa.
This will be just Carty’s ninth appearance for Ireland in what will be his second start since he made his debut in the 78th minute in the win over Italy during the Six Nations.
Carty’s elevation to the starting side in what is a mammoth Test match against the competition’s hosts is a testament to his character, ambition and work ethic.
In fact, the 27-year-old only amassed 31 minutes of international rugby during the Six Nations which highlights even more how much he impressed Schmidt on the training ground.
The head coach revealed at today’s team announcement that he told Carty early this week that he would be starting so as to best help him prepare mentally for the clash with the Brave Blossoms.
“We want to give Jack as much certainty as possible, so we told him on Tuesday that he’d be starting and he could get his head around it,” Schmidt said.
One of Carty’s traits which pleases Schmidt the most is his ability to handle pressure situations as he explained:
“He’s very calm, he doesn’t get ruffled easily. He doesn’t get distracted by an error he might make or distracted by people trying to put pressure on him. He stays in the zone incredibly well. For us, with Jack, there’s a lot of confidence from the coaching staff and from the players as well.
“So, the spectrum of skills he brings; obviously I’ve mentioned his angled kicking game, for us to get out of our ’22 on the weekend, he put through that ball on the ground. I think he’s got a bit of a running game, he takes the ball to the line like he did against Wales and links up with the players.
“That’s another attacking threat he brings.”
It’s not just the head coach who praised Carty’s character, defence coach Andy Farrell also spoke today and highlighted the Connacht man’s ability to retain information and just be himself.
“All of a sudden you’re in the mix and you either sink or swim, don’t you?
“With all the information you’ve been given that everyone is unbelievably comfortable with, I think Jack’s strength of character is one of not just his work ethic to get across his detail, but also being himself.
“That’s the most important thing. You want to see guys who are in pivotal positions being able to retain the information but also see the game as it is unfolding and he’s comfortable with doing that.”
Conor Murray, who has been named to start at scrum-half this weekend, will be partnering Carty and the Limerick man told the packed media room in Yumeria that the out-half’s calmness and ability to take things in his stride make it very easy to play alongside him.
“He’s quite a calm character, Jack, which is good to have outside you,” Murray said.
“Like anyone that comes into the set-up there’s a pressure to learn and step up and he’s responded really well to that. He’s got to grips with the way we play, the tactics and phase-calls and what’s expected of him.
“That laid-back nature has aided him in coming into an environment like this and learning off the likes of Johnny (Sexton) and Joey (Carbery), who is actually younger than him but has been around the set-up for a while.
“So, yeah, I’m excited to play with Jack. He takes it in his stride, he’s played really well any time he’s been given the chance whether (it’s) in the Six Nations or the summer series, coming over here and coming on last weekend he did really well.