Saturday 22 July 2017

Schmidt urges Carbery to 'show he can run a game'

Leinster playmaker makes first start at No 10 as Ireland name five new faces in 23 to face USA

Joey Carbery of Ireland during squad training at Carton House, Maynooth, in Co. Kildare. Photo: Sportsfile
Joey Carbery of Ireland during squad training at Carton House, Maynooth, in Co. Kildare. Photo: Sportsfile

Brendan Fanning in New Jersey

Before the tour of the USA and Japan, Joe Schmidt warned that being selected was no guarantee of going home with a cap - but now that five potential debutants are in the frame against the Eagles in New Jersey tomorrow, it's hard to imagine any of them not taking the next step.

Jacob Stockdale, who starts on the left wing, at least is guaranteed that much, and his form for Ulster has been one of the highlights of a season for Les Kiss' side to forget.

On the bench, hooker Dave Heffernan, prop Andrew Porter, second-row James Ryan and centre Rory Scannell are all in line to be capped. Having been around the Ireland squad for the Six Nations, Scannell is the most experienced of that bunch.

If he gets the nod earlier than planned, however, then something will have gone wrong, for his covering on the bench of out-half Joey Carbery is related to the absence of Paddy Jackson, who will be hooking up with the squad in Japan.

Ideally the Munster player will come on late in the day when the issue has been put to bed, and Schmidt can grow his base around the out-half position.

For Carbery, though, it's a chance not just for a first start in a Test match, but to do it in the No 10 shirt.

"Yeah I think he can play 10 really well," Schmidt said. "I think he's quite a natural player - he's played nine, he's played 15, and I think he can play either of those as well.

"For us he first came into the team as a 10 - he made his Test debut as a 10 coming off the bench for Johnny (Sexton) and his next game he… well he played against Canada briefly… then he backed up by coming on at full-back against Australia.

"He has shown real versatility for us. It's a real opportunity for him to show he can start a game at 10 and run a game at 10 and we'd love to see him do that really well."

The pack is as experienced a group as Schmidt could have put out - given that Donnacha Ryan was not brought after signing for Racing 92 - and the set-piece is unlikely to be a concern. The interesting bit would come with injuries mid-match.

In any case it should be an enormous culture shock for either or both of Andrew Porter and James Ryan. Porter, a loosehead by trade, has been given some time at tighthead both for Leinster and UCD this season.

"When you bring five props away on tour you need someone to cover both sides," Schmidt said. "Andrew is one of the guys who does that. Finlay Bealham is the other one.

"John Ryan is a tighthead and Cian (Healy) is a loosehead and so too is Dave Kilcoyne.

"Two guys do have some flexibility, Andrew and Finlay, and that's one of the advantages of bringing Andrew away.

"One of the advantages of bringing a guy who can play both sides is it does give you that security or flexibility to be able to mix and match a little bit.

"We don't want too much confusion or consternation because propping the different sides is quite different."

The obvious concern is in carrying so little experience across the squad, away from home, on a tight pitch where it will be hot and humid.

"It's one of the things that's probably uppermost, but my confidence in some of these guys acquitting themselves well is also one of things that allows me just to feel that confidence that we can cope and it's really up to them," said Schmidt.

"Hopefully that we see a bit of support around them. Where there's inexperience, there's a bit experience as well with John Ryan and Niall Scannell, who have spent a bit of time with us now.

"Cian is hugely experienced. In the second-row, Dev (Toner) has huge experience and Quinn Roux has been calling lineouts recently."

And will the Famous Five debutants be just that?

"It is usually the intention and then we just see how it breaks down," Schmidt added.

"I think that it is going to be very warm and we are going to need everyone ready to go. And I think it will be quite attritional."

He's got that right. The issue is how this selection will stand up.

Ireland - T O'Halloran; K Earls, G Ringrose, L Marshall, J Stockdale; J Carbery, K Marmion; C Healy, N Scannell, J Ryan, Q Roux, D Toner, R Ruddock (capt), J Conan, J van der Flier. Reps: D Heffernan, D Kilcoyne A Porter, J Ryan, D Leavy; L McGrath, R Scannell, S Zebo.

Irish Independent

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