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Thursday 20 September 2018

Joey out for Blues

Schmidt keeps Carbery for Ireland

Green machine: Joey Carbery features in official Ireland kit supplier, Canterbury’s ‘Rising Strength’ video series. The three-part series looks at the role that clubs and the youth game play on the pathway of success. The Ireland jersey is available from Canterbury.com
Green machine: Joey Carbery features in official Ireland kit supplier, Canterbury’s ‘Rising Strength’ video series. The three-part series looks at the role that clubs and the youth game play on the pathway of success. The Ireland jersey is available from Canterbury.com

There is what Joe Schmidt sees and there is what Joey Carbery feels.

No matter the knowledge of Ireland's coach, he cannot climb inside the mind of the versatile 22-year-old.

These are the bare facts.

Carbery has not played one minute at out-half for Leinster this season, from his seven matches, five of them for 80 minutes.

There have been 101 minutes for Ireland this season, no more than a total of 32 from the Six Nations wins over Italy (29) in round two and Wales (3) in round three.

Carbery has to feel like he needs time at ten, hasn't he? Well, he won't be getting it for Leinster this weekend.

"I suppose, if it came to the stage where I wasn't feeling confident in myself, I would have to have that conversation," he said.

"At the moment, I'm feeling pretty good and I'm happy with where I am."

Why wouldn't he? Ireland are on a thrill-a-week ride through the Six Nations.

There are three rounds down and two to go in what could be their third championship in five years, even their third Grand Slam since 1883.

"It's a great environment to be in, and the team is winning as well, so it's a pretty good place to be.

"I'm feeling good in myself, so there's no reason to have that conversation."

The sense is of an out-half learning more from training at Ireland than he would playing for Leinster, certainly against Southern Kings anyway.

"Training is intense and as close to a game as it possibly could be," he said.

"I'm getting a good bit out of being in camp and doing that and training.

Nothing

"But, then again, nothing is the same as a game," he said.

"I suppose I've got to trust the coaches and they've got to know best. Joe (Schmidt) is happy so I'm doing something right anyway."

No matter, there is one indisputable truth about players.

Above all else, they want to play and they feel the need to play.

There has to come a time when Carbery tells Schmidt (left) what he is truly feeling.

"Yeah, the coaches value our opinions. There's been loads of conversations," he said. "It is a two-way street and, if I felt the need to say something, I'm sure they'd be more than willing to listen."

This is where the strain on resources comes in because Schmidt prefers Carbery over Munster's Ian Keatley, who is having his best year as a professional.

Even with all Keatley has shown, in leading Munster to the Champions Cup quarter-finals, Schmidt is adamant he has his second best man.

"I do need the game-time," stated Carbery. "But, then, if Joe doesn't want to release me, he doesn't want to release me."

It is a tricky situation and an understandable position taken by Schmidt.

What if Carbery did play and got injured against the Scarlets in Wales on Saturday?

A Carbery setback would put a huge hole in Schmidt's emergency plans should Sexton falter physically.

"I'm just going off what the coaches are saying," said the man from Athy.

The first choice out-half wasn't even at Lansdowne Road on Tuesday. The coach relayed how Sexton was off-site, working away on his conditioning.

And Carbery will back him up but more than likely won't be making the trip to Scarlets.

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