Having scored two tries in his first two matches for Munster and earned a call-up to the Ireland squad, former rugby league star Brian Carney is now honing in on his rugby union Test debut.
With his Munster form chalking his name down for Ireland’s summer tour to Argentina, Carney could be only days away from making his union bow at Test level but the former Great Britain league international is quick to point out the work that lays ahead of him.
“The transition from league to union is a bit difficult,” Carney said at today’s media day in Limerick. “I realise and appreciate how much I have to learn in rugby union. They are two very different games. Fortunately it is easier for an outside back to adapt than it would be for anybody else. I am aware of how much I have got to learn.
“Having played union when I was younger, it’s not totally unfamiliar to me. There are intricacies that you are not aware of when you’re a schoolboy that you become aware of when you get older and more experienced.”
Helped by his Cork roots, Carney has slotted in very well at Munster. Commenting on his short time with the province, he said: “To come into a team who were European champions was nice. Munster have several internationals in their squad and it gave me a feel early on of what levels of professionalism are expected from me.”
Owing to a slight hamstring injury, the 30-year-old winger sat out Munster’s final game of the Magners League season against Glasgow at the weekend.
“I’m feeling pretty good about the hamstring. There is a very good medical team here (in the Ireland set-up). Obviously any injury is a concern but I hope to get it right for the first Test.”
Carney could make his bow for Ireland in the first Test against Argentina, which takes place in Santa Fe on Saturday week. Asked about his ambitions for the tour, he replied: “I’d hope to develop further as a player in an environment where I will have to do that pretty quickly.”
Reflecting on his eight-year rugby league career, which saw him hit the heights with Wigan and Great Britain, he was asked had he achieved all that he wished in league and was that the reason he came back to the union game?
“I never felt I achieved what I wanted to achieve, I achieved very little compared to some players,” Carney admitted. “But returning to union is a tremendous challenge and opportunity for me.”
And is his ultimate goal to win a place in the Ireland World Cup team? “My ultimate goal is to make the transition from league to union and be a success at it. Success for me would be if, at the end, I can look back and say I was a good union player.
“But to represent your country at the World Cup would mean an awful lot.”