Cullen denies Leinster wanted overseas out-half instead of Carbery
Rising out-half starlet Joey Carbery has been backed by Leinster coach Leo Cullen to make an impression as Ireland coach Joe Schmidt heads to the RDS this evening to run the rule over one of his potential new November caps.
And the Leinster boss was also swift to decry the possible suggestion from IRFU performance director David Nucifora that the New Zealand-born player is only now getting his opportunity after the province's move to buy an overseas replacement was rebuffed.
"In a big European game last week he played the second half and I thought he coped really well," said Cullen, who withdrew Jonathan Sexton for that defeat in Montpellier in order to pitch the talented 20-year-old into the fray ahead of a likely debut against Canada next month.
"That's a pretty intimidating place to play, against reasonably intimidating men as well in Montpellier, so he coped incredibly well.
"The week before against Castres, Joey coped really well that day. His ability to take the line on is probably his main strength.
"He is very good at playing unstructured, he's a brave defender, and he's a clever footballer. He sees the pictures well and he works incredibly hard at it. And his temperament is going well too."
However, Nucifora hinted this week that Leinster were perhaps more interested in signing another overseas out-half to replace the departing Ian Madigan rather than promote Carbery.
"We all knew Joey last year because he was in the Academy and he played for Leinster last year," Cullen demurred. "That's not true.
"I can't comment on other stuff. As the seasons go on, you are always planning ahead. You are having discussions about the squad and what you want in terms of bringing players in and out."
Cullen has been forced to change ten of his team and the absence of former Connacht man Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose means it is now likely both will start against the Kiwis in Chicago.
With no Ultan Dillane for Connacht, he will pair up with Devin Toner in the second-row while Tadhg Furlong will also start.
The Kiwis yesterday confirmed that influential lock Brodie Retallick will miss the Chicago Test with concussion. Luke Romano and Patrick Tuipulotu will combine in the second-row.