herald

Monday 18 December 2017

Time for Leinster and Carbery to decide on his best position

Ireland's Joey Carbery leaves the pitch with an injury. Photo: Sportsfile
Ireland's Joey Carbery leaves the pitch with an injury. Photo: Sportsfile

It will be interesting to see how Leinster coaches Leo Cullen and Stuart Lancaster react to Joey Carbery's out-of-character performance for Ireland against the United States Eagles in New Jersey on Saturday night.

The giveaway of two tries from defensive kicks flew in the face of one of the golden rules of the game. The learning experience accounts for making mistakes, not the same mistake twice in the same game.

The exquisite skills of the 21 year-old have to be nurtured in the right way to turn potential into performance at the international level.

This has to happen day-to-day at his province where Carbery has been moved between out-half and full-back. A professional life lived betwixt and between the two positions will only hamper his long-term development.

Carbery's last appearance at out-half, prior to Saturday, was an undistinguished one against Ulster in the PRO12 League at the beginning of May.

This was followed by a move to full-back for the PRO12 semi-final against eventual champions Scarlets.

Jonathan Sexton is going nowhere soon.

While patience can be a virtue, the decorated 31 year-old has never been known to stand in line when he could skip the queue.

Is Carbery better suited to be Sexton or Rob Kearney's successor?

It has to be one or the other, not one and the other.

In terms of Ireland, Carbery's sprained ankle will open the way for Paddy Jackson to join the Ireland squad as the number one out-half for the two test matches against Japan over the next two Saturdays.

"It's a pass mark, first up," reviewed Schmidt after the bloodless 55-19 nine-try blast of the Americans.

"This group has worked hard, but it's always difficult to put it together.

"The US got into our space really well and made us work hard," he said.

Looking ahead, Ulster wing Jacob Stockdale repaid the faith of Schmidt with a try on his debut.

The same could be said for Leinster lock James Ryan, who touched down with his first touch in professional rugby, and tight-head prop Andrew Porter for his solid scrummaging.

Meanwhile, the Ireland U20s' torrid time at the World Cup in Georgia took another turn for the worse.

Captain Jack Kelly (ankle), loose-forwards Marcus Rea (shoulder) and Sean Masterson (ankle), out-half Conor Fitzgerald (ankle) and wing Liam Coombes (thigh) have all returned home from injuries incurred against ruthless New Zealand on Thursday.

The uncapped trio of Leinster flanker Cormac Daly, Connacht ten Luke Carty and Ulster wing Mark Keane have flown out as cover.

The Irish will play Samoa in the 9th-12th placeplay-off in Tblisi tomorrow morning (KO 10.0am, Irish time).

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