'He's putting his money where his mouth is' - Brian O'Driscoll on Joe Schmidt's XV and why he feels the Aussies will 'sneak it'
Brian O'Driscoll feels Joe Schmidt has taken a risk by picking Joey Carbery over Johnny Sexton and by going for a second-choice front row for the first game of the three Test series with the Wallabies in Brisbane tomorrow.
Munster-bound Carbery is giving a chance in a major Test game from the start and with first choice props Cian Healy and Tadhg Furlong given bench roles, and Rory Best out injured, Jack McGrath, Rob Herring and John Ryan form the front row.
Asked if Schmidt's team selection was risky, O'Driscoll told Off The Ball: "Yes of course because it's not full strength and when you don't pick your number one 10 there is a risk that comes with that.
"I'm interested to see what happens with that front row. Historically or at least in the last 10 years, Australia haven't been brilliant in the front row so whether they feel there is an opportunity to test guys without getting them opened up.
"It's a calculated risk.
"He's putting his money where his mouth is with Carbery.
"Is there a risk in John Ryan? Could he have put Tadhg Furlong in, who has played a lot of rugby and is one who hasn't lost a game this season either but these lads have a lot of miles on the clock as well so you gotta look after him, to know that he's coming on with 30 minutes to go is a nice place for John Ryan to be. Knowing that he can empty that tank for 50 minutes, he's not playing more than an hour.
"Rob Herring. Is he the third choice hooker? There is question marks over that and there are question marks over who the second and third choice scrumhalves will be."
O'Driscoll is glad to see Carbery getting his chance to start in a first choice back division in a game of real significance.
"He hasn't had that opportunity. It's a bug, pressurised environment for him. Joe Schmidt has backed his initial conversation with Joey saying, 'You need to go and play more rugby' and he's giving game immediately on the back of that decision," he added.
"Joey has had big impacts in big games. You think back to his first cap in Soldier Field against the All Blacks, he came on and did extremely well. He was part of the creation of the Stockdale try that broke England before half time in the Grand Slam game.
"When you think to pivotal moments, he's been in the mix and on the field. Now comes a different sort of responsibility, rather than plugging gaps can you shape the team performance around your game."
O'Driscoll also feels that although McGrath has got the nod at loosehead for tomorrow's game in Brisbane, Healy has got the edge in the race for the number one shirt ahead of next year's World Cup.
"Healy's ahead. I don't think he's a little bit ahead. Jack McGrath has been okay (this season) when he has come in but Cian Healy is firmly the number one there."
Michael Cheika has named a strong team with a very formidable back division and Ireland's record goalscorer thinks they might shade it.
"I like the look of that Australian team. It's just a matter of if they are rusty and how well-equipped Ireland are with Joey there.
"Also, Australia love playing in Brisbane at Suncorp. They've got a great record there
"I fancy that Australia might sneak this one.
"We'll definitely win a Test and it will be 2-1 one way or another. I don't think it will be 3-0 either way.
"This one's tight but I just wonder if Australia will just sneak this one."