Carney's cracking the code

New Ireland recruit Brian Carney admits he will happily play in whatever position he is selected as he anticipates his first rugby union international tour.

New Ireland recruit Brian Carney admits he will happily play in whatever position he is selected as he anticipates his first rugby union international tour.

Barring injury, Ireland's upcoming two-Test tour of Argentina, which begins on Saturday week in Sante Fe, should see the former Wigan and Great Britain rugby league star make his international bow in the union code.

More noted as a winger, ex-Gateshead Thunder star Carney has played on the right wing and at full-back for Munster since his high-profile code switch in March and could be used by Eddie O'Sullivan in both roles against the Pumas, as the Irish coach looks for some welcome selection headaches.

Carney has been suffering from a hamstring injury, which saw him sit out Munster's final Magners League match last Saturday against Glasgow, but he is confident of being fit for the first Test.

He said: "I am feeling pretty good concerning my damaged hamstring. There is a very good medical team here (in the Ireland set-up). Of course, any injury is a concern but I hope to get it right for the Test."

Just two months since his transfer to Munster, he admitted: "The transition from league to union is a bit difficult. 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've 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."

With the Rugby World Cup less than four months away, Carney was asked if winning a place in the Ireland side for the tournament would be his ultimate goal. "No. My ultimate goal is to make the transition from league to union and be a success at it," he added.

"Success for me would be if, at the end of my career, I can look back and say I was a good union player."

The Cork-born player dramatically came out of retirement to sign for Munster and return to the sport he initially played at secondary school.

"To come to Munster and 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," he said.

Reflecting back on his league career, which spanned eight years and four different clubs, he added: "I never felt I achieved what I wanted to achieve. I achieved very little compared to some players. But returning to union is a tremendous challenge and opportunity for me."

While admitting that representing his country at the World Cup in France would mean "an awful lot", Carney would not budge when asked if playing at the forthcoming World Cup would top what he had achieved in the league game.

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer