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Irish Independent
Irish Independent
Ruaidhri O'Connor Twitter

Joey Carbery’s road to redemption starts with Munster’s mission improbable

Joey Carbery was left out of Andy Farrell's Ireland squad this week

At the end of the most difficult week of his professional career, Joey Carbery has a chance to right some wrongs and prove a point.

What better motivation could the Athy native need as he goes to France to lead Munster’s backline knowing he has fallen a few rungs on the Ireland ladder.

Andy Farrell wants a response and there’s no better place to show the head coach what your made of than Stade Ernest Wallon.

Munster are up against it in Toulouse where the locals are looking to top Pool B and have picked a fittingly strong side.

The visitors are enjoying a resurgence in recent times and by kick-off they’ll know where they stand in terms of qualification. Even if they are assured of their place in the round of 16, they’ll want to avoid away trips to face Leinster, Sharks and Saracens if possible.

This promises to be a very different match to the return fixture on a foggy evening in Limerick where Toulouse played with the handbrake on, conscious as they were that the game could be abandoned at any moment.

Backed by their home crowd, they’ll fancy a big win here.

Munster have improved, but they’ll need something special to contain the home forwards and their six replacements who bring power and punch to the contact zone.

It’s an ideal Six Nations tune-up and Farrell will be watching Tadhg Beirne, Dave Kilcoyne, Peter O’Mahony, Gavin Coombes and Jack Crowley to see how they fare. Conor Murray is another of national interest having been restored to the bench and he’ll be another with a point to prove.

They should be confident after beating Northampton back to back, but that must be tempered with realism for this Toulouse team is one of the few teams who have realistic ambitions of winning this year’s Champions Cup.

The 2021 champions have added the metronomic France kicker Melvyn Jaminet to their arsenal, although Munster will be glad to see that Mattis Lebel is not involved considering his strike-rate against them.

While they’ve the world’s best player behind the scrum, it is up front where Toulouse will expect to get their main advantage against a team who have coughed up the most penalties on their own ball in the competition.

In Thomond Park, Munster’s maul ran aground against the French behemoths who scored two tries off their own drive. They have a serious amount of size in their tight five, with Emmanuel Meafou the coming man in the second-row.

The Australian-born lock is a superstar in the making; weighing in at 145kg (22st, 12lbs) and standing 2.03m (6ft, 8ins) tall. Last weekend, he ran for 33 metres, 32 metres of which came in contact. Australia and France are in a tug of war for his services. 

Munster have been training and playing fast and their mission is to move the big home pack around the park. They must take their chances when they come and produce a major effort without the ball to have a chance.

After the week he’s had, Carbery could do with a performance and if he can lead Munster to a win here, it would be quite a statement.

A win would make their lives much easier down the line, but a losing bonus or a four-try effort would help them on their way.


Strong point

Where do you start? A pack laced with power and international class with a quality set-piece, playing in front of a backline that features the French half-backs and their reliable goal-kicket Melvyn Jaminet. They're the full package.​

Weak point
Leinster made Toulouse look ordinary last season with the pace and accuracy of their play, but they’re far better this season and beating them will take some doing. The bulk of their second-row may mean they can be got at out of touch, but other than that Munster need to be exceptional.​

Star man

Cyril Baille

Yes, there are more glamorous options in Toulouse’s backline but the loosehead prop is an all-court player. A regular France starter, he backs up his scrummaging with some silky skills and hard carrying.

Verdict: Toulouse

MUNSTER –  M Haley; C Nash, A Frisch, J Crowley, S Daly; J Carbery, C Casey; D Kilcoyne, N Scannell, J Ryan; J Kleyn, T Beirne; P O’Mahony (capt), J Hodnett, G Coombes. Reps: D Barron, J Wycherley, R Salanoa, J O’Sullivan, A Kendellen, C Murray, B Healy, M Fekitoa.

TOULOUSE – M Jaminet; J Cruz Mallia, PL Barassi, P Ahki, D Delibes; R Ntamack, A Dupont (capt); C Baille, J Marchand, D Aldegheri; Richie Arnold, E Meafou; A Jelonch, J Willis, A Roumat. Reps: G Cramont, R Neti, D Ainu’u, T Flament, J Brennan, F Cros, A Capuozzon, A Retiere.

REF – K Dickson (England)

On TV: Munster v Toulouse, BT Sport 2, Sunday, 3.15

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