Saturday 24 August 2019

Jack Conan backs Joey Carbery to blossom into frontline fly-half

Joey Carbery suffered a suspected broken arm against Fiji
Joey Carbery suffered a suspected broken arm against Fiji

Joey Carbery will solve his goal-kicking issues to blossom into a frontline fly-half for Ireland, according to team-mate Jack Conan.

Promising Leinster pivot Carbery's two missed conversions almost cost Ireland on Saturday as Joe Schmidt's men edged out a nervy 23-20 win over Fiji in Dublin.

Ian Keatley came off the bench to slot two late penalties to seal the win, as Ireland squeezed home after making 13 changes from the 38-3 win over South Africa.

Carbery suffered a suspected broken arm to cut short a threatening attacking display, and could now be sidelined for two months, but still drew high praise from Leinster team-mate Conan.

"He's a fantastic talent and a great bloke and I know he'll bounce back better than ever and be even more determined," said Conan, of 22-year-old Carbery.

"It's just testament to his quality; that first line break from out of nowhere to set up that first try, that was fantastic.

"And he's really one for the future, massively."

Conan claimed a sharp score to add to tries from Darren Sweetnam and Dave Kearney as Ireland raced into a 17-3 lead in Dublin only to be hauled back by the gritty Fijians.

Ireland managed to ride out Carbery's two missed conversions, but those struggles from the tee highlighted the main area for improvement for the fast-improving Leinster star.

Carbery ran Ireland's attack with verve and serious sidestepping threat however, raising hopes he can thrive as a long-term challenger to Johnny Sexton's number 10 shirt.

And Conan insisted his provincial and Test team-mate can easily iron out those goal-kicking foibles.

"He's got a calm head on his shoulders and he's only 22, so I'd back Joey in every aspect to succeed," said Conan.

"We see him every day in training at Leinster and here with Ireland, he's already an absolutely fantastic player and he's only going to get better and better, whether he's at 10 and 15.

"I think the future's so bright for him and I wish him all the best for his recovery."

Ireland boss Joe Schmidt was happy to have had the chance to blood some youngsters and fringe players against Fiji, ahead of hosting Argentina on Saturday.

Ireland's frontline stars will return to face the Pumas, but Conan was delighted to have had a chance to state his case for future selection in a hugely-challenging Test match.

"We had 600 or so caps against South Africa and around 200 this week," said Conan.

"The management making changes like that, I think it's fantastic for the culture, and the team.

"We weren't at our best today at all but the experience the boys learned today will be invaluable going forward."

PA Media

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