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Boy Wonder emerging from shadow of the Caped Crusader


Joey Carbery with Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt.

Joey Carbery with Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt.

Joey Carbery with Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt.

There is a theory floating around out there that Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has the power to over-ride decisions made by the provincial coaches.

It simply isn't true.

Sure, there can be suggestions made on the basis of what would be best for each player, in terms of national selection.

But the power of persuasion does not stretch as far as the team-sheet.

The most obvious case in point is Leinster's magic man, Joey Carbery.

The Boy Wonder has played all of this season at full-back for Leinster, largely due to the tribulations of Rob Kearney.

Ross Byrne has worn the number ten shirt when the 22-year-old has been slipped out the back.

More recently, there is the shadow cast by the Caped Crusader, Jonathan Sexton.

"In the early stages, it is definitely a help," said Ireland skills and kicking coach, Richie Murphy.

"He gets to see things from a different perspective and he often drifts in and plays at first receiver anyway.

"It is a situation where you are probably trying to get your best players on the pitch at Leinster. Joey is one of those, so they feel they have to play him there."

Even then, coach Leo Cullen has called on either Isa Nacewa, Byrne or Sexton to take on the place-kicking.

For all the peaks of last season for Carbery, there were the troughs that happened when it came to his goal-kicking.

It is a work in progress that took a step in the right directyion from two immaculate conversions against South Africa.

"You need to have something to go back to," stated Murphy.


"When something goes wrong, do you try and fix it or do you go back to something?

"Our idea would be that you go back to what you should have done in the first place.

"It's just trying to drive him down that road which he's taken to pretty well."

Carbery has been consistent in nominating "ten" as his preferred option.

More of the same comes from Murphy.

"For us, we're looking to try and grow him as a ten," he said.

"We're trying to build that background in behind and thro ugh training sessions so that he feels very comfortable in that position.

"Because we feel that he's the next one in behind Johnny (Sexton) at the moment."

It is expected that Carbery will have his shot in the out-half slot against Fiji on Saturday (KO5.30).

Should he start, he will have to be careful not to get drawn into dancing competition with some of the best steppers in the world.

"He's one of those guys - the old cliché - he plays what he sees," said Murphy.

"He's not afraid to express himself. He knows his worth and his ability and, as long as he sticks within that, he is going to be fine.

"At the end of the day, he has an ability to beat people and those guys don't come around very often in Ireland, there's plenty of them in Fiji.

"That makes him special."