Tuesday 23 October 2018

Brian O'Driscoll: Does Joey Carbery have all the attributes to play 15 in a Joe Schmidt team? I'm not sure

Joey Carbery with head coach Joe Schmidt during an Ireland rugby press conference at Carton House in Maynooth, Kildare. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Joey Carbery with head coach Joe Schmidt during an Ireland rugby press conference at Carton House in Maynooth, Kildare. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Brian O'Driscoll has said that he's not sure if Leinster utility Joey Carbery has all the attributes to play at fullback in a Joe Schmidt side.

Carbery has been the standout fullback in Irish rugby this season, with three tries and three try assists in six games for Leinster, but O'Driscoll, who played under Schmidt for both Leinster and Ireland, said that he doesn't think that the Ireland head coach sees Carbery as a fullback.

"He obviously doesn't see him as a 15, he sees him as a backup 10," O'Driscoll said on Newstalk's Off The Ball on Friday evening.

"I think, and he's shown it in the past, if Rob Kearney is fit, that he's his guy. Does Joey have all the attributes to play 15 in a Joe Schmidt team? I'm not sure.

"Joe likes guys that do the basics extremely well. He's not after flashy players. He likes good team players, honest workhorses that don't have a high error count.

"I'm not saying Joey makes a lot of errors but he tries things. He has wonderful x-factor, and he can create something from nothing, but he is also prone to the odd error as well.

"That's exciting for us all, but not so much for a coach, and that's why you're seeing the likes of Rob Kearney in the 15 jersey. Jared Payne likewise; he doesn't make an awful lot of errors.

"Don't expect that to change. If he continues at 15, and he plays brilliantly for Leinster for the rest of the season and he keeps Rob Kearney out, then obviously he's going to have to look at him in February in the Six Nations, but for now, I think he sees him as his backup 10."

The former Ireland captain added that he believes that Carbery is capable of playing at fullback, as well as inside centre, but that ultimately, the prodigious 22-year-old is adept at playing in a number of positions.

"I think he sees himself as a 10, but I think if you look at the super talented players around the world at the moment, and I think the obvious one is Beauden Barrett, who has played a good bit of 10 and 15, Damian McKenzie has done some 10 and 15 as well, so it is the obvious switch if you're going to have multiple positions.

"It's easier to fit into 15 because you're able to read the game well and you have to have a clarity of thought when you're in those two positions in when to pull the trigger with the correct decisions.

"You can also see the 10 playing a little bit of 12. Could I see Joey Carbery playing 12? Absolutely, if you want that second distributor, just a couple of question marks if he has the physicality to match guys like Stuart McCloskey coming running down his channel."

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