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Irish Independent
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‘There has been a bit of feedback and Joey understands that’ – Andy Farrell explains Carbery omission

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell (left) opted to leave Joey Carbery out of his Six Nations squad. Image: Sportsfile.

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell has admitted he can understand the widespread shock at his decision to leave Joey Carbery out of his Six Nations squad.

Farrell has given Carbery feedback on the reasons behind his omission, as he called on the Munster out-half to bounce back in a similar manner that Ross Byrne has done, which saw the Leinster man earn a recall from the international wilderness.

With the World Cup looming large, Carbery is in a race against time to force his way back into Farrell's plans, but the Ireland boss made it clear that the door is not closed.

Carbery played 50 minutes of Munster's defeat in Toulouse yesterday, with Farrell keeping a close eye on how he went.

“I understand it (surprise) because it's not as though he has been playing poorly. His form has been pretty good, as in he played pretty well yesterday,” Farrell said.

“But there has been a bit of feedback, like we would do with a lot of players who didn't make the squad and Joey understands that.

“There is another guy there, Ross Byrne, who has been getting feedback for the last couple of years and couldn't get into the room.

“He has improved on the things we have been asking of him, so he gets the chance to see if that can convert to the international stage, and we know that's a different level, but he has earned the right to be able to do that.

“100pc Joey will be working away hard to get back in and then we've got Jack Crowley there who has got a lot of potential going forward, so we need to put a bit of time into him as well.”

Asked if it was then more of a case of what Byrne and Crowley had done, rather than what Carbery didn't do, Farrell elaborated:

“A little of that, a little bit of both. Everyone has some improvement in them. Johnny (Sexton) is at the top of the three obviously, as far as his career is concerned. But he would be the first to tell you that he's got things to work on.

“So, everyone has, but at the same time, we have got a bit of depth, got a bit of competition and people fighting to want to be part of this Irish squad. It's where we want to be.”

Farrell again encouraged his players to embrace being the number one ranked team in the world, as he warned against the threat of Wales first up in Cardiff on February 4.

“Pretty easily. You focus on what’s in front of you,” Farrell insisted.

“We meet up tomorrow as a squad for the first time, so the focus will be nothing but on ourselves and getting ready for the Welsh game and then it’s a progression, being honest with yourself and making sure that the realisation of where you need to take your game to.

“I think we’ve got a pretty hungry group to be able to do that.”

With Warren Gatland back in charge of Wales, Farrell knows that Ireland face a major opening test in Cardiff.

“Well obviously all the hype is certainly warranted, pardon the pun, but he’s obviously a serial winner, especially in this competition, and he’ll certainly bring that to his squad and have them ready,” Farrell added

“Cardiff has always been a difficult hunting ground for us and rightly so. It’s one of the hardest places to go in world rugby, so it really doesn’t matter who’s in charge or what type of team they put out there.

“We all know what playing at home means to them, so therefore it’s a massive task first up but we pride ourselves on getting up to speed as soon as we possibly can and be at our best when it matters.

“So hopefully the occasion and the game will bring the best out in us.”

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