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Irish Independent
Irish Independent
Ruaidhri O'Connor Twitter

Graham Rowntree backs Joey Carbery to bounce back as he confirms Ben Healy is available during Six Nations

Munster's Joey Carbery arrives before the Heineken Champions Cup Pool B Round 4 match against Toulouse at Stade Ernest Wallon in Toulouse, France yesterday.

Graham Rowntree has backed Joey Carbery to bounce back from the disappointment of missing out on Ireland's Six Nations squad.

The Munster out-half was the shock omission from Andy Farrell’s 37-man squad last week and will now play for his province through the tournament, starting with Saturday’s trip to Italy to face Benetton.

He started against Toulouse yesterday and played well in open play, but was replaced after just 50 minutes by Ben Healy after missing two kickable conversions.

Munster lost the game by four points and the kicks could have changed the complexion of the tie, giving Toulouse bigger leads to chase.

Ben Healy came on for Carbery and was playing well before getting a yellow card for leading with the elbow.

Despite his call-up for Scotland, Healy will remain available for Munster through the Six Nations. The province are only obliged to release him for match-weeks and, while he’s linking up with Gregor Townsend’s squad today until Wednesday, he’ll be part of the selection picture for the Benetton, Ospreys and Scarlets.

Rowntree believes Carbery will come out of the affair a stronger player.

“Tactically it’s a real comfort to have the likes of Ben (Healy) and Conor (Murray) available (on the bench). Predominantly our selection is based around form and tactics. It felt right to have Ben and Conor involved today, and it was the right thing to do at the time,” he said.

“We don’t have a grand plan over substitutions. It’s ‘feel’, in the moment, in discussions between the coaches.”

“Going back to Joey, he’s grown as a player.

"He was disappointed last week, rightly so. He's been exceptional at training, he drives the group and he'll learn from that

"It will strengthen his game, I've got nothing but praise for the kid.

"I like working with him. He's around this week as well, it's handy for us going to Treviso.

"I can't speak highly enough about how he's dealt with that disappointment and that's when you learn.

"It's a moment you have to get through and he will get through it."

Rowntree also admitted that Munster will miss the totemic John Ryan who put in an excellent performance on his penultimate game for the club.

The tighthead prop returned to his home province on a short-term deal after Wasps went out of business and despite efforts to extend his stay he received a better offer from the Chiefs of New Zealand and moves there in February for the Super Rugby season.

"I've never seen him scrummage like that. We'll miss him, hopefully we'll see him again but it's an exciting move for him and his family and we wish him all the best," he said.

"He's been great for us, coming back for a cameo few months."

Munster’s main injury concern out of their 20-16 defeat is Mike Haley who suffered a suspected sprained ankle during the first-half of the game and was replaced by Malakai Fekitoa who did well.

Munster’s focus turns to the United Rugby Championship where they remain locked in a battle for the play-off places.

They’re without their Ireland Six Nations squad members who’ll be in Portugal next weekend, but Rowntree is excited by the youth in his squad with John Hodnett showing his ability in Toullouse.

"We'll back guys regardless of their lack of experience," he said.

"John deserves his chance, he's in the middle of everything. He's got such a good, low chop tackle. He's low to the floor, but he carries well and he's improving his handling skills as many of the guys have working with Prendy (Mike Prendergast).

"We've got a good glut of back-rowers coming through this club, we always have historically.”

"Him, Kendo (Alex Kendellen), Jack O'Sullivan, underneath there's the Ruadhan Quinns coming through..."

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