Peter O'Mahony backs 'incredible' Joey Carbery as opportunity knocks for young Irish stars
As Joey Carbery prepares for the biggest start of his career to date, he has received the full backing of his captain Peter O'Mahony who rates hm as "an incredible footballer".
The duo will be clubmates when the 22-year-old swaps Leinster for Munster next season, but for now they are tasked with leading Joe Schmidt's side to a first Test win over Australia in Brisbane tomorrow morning.
The squad carried out their final preparations at Suncorp Stadium overnight.
Carbery has been selected to start ahead of Johnny Sexton and, speaking at the Captain's Run press conference, O'Mahony said he has been impressed with how the youngster has stepped up to the plate since receiving the news from Schmidt.
"It's been great," he said.
"He's an incredible footballer, I don't have to tell you that. He's really grown into that leadership role.
"I suppose over the past two years he's been getting better and better and he's a big character in the squad, which you need from your No 10.
"I think he's growing all the time and it's a huge opportunity for him tomorrow.
"Guys getting a shot... we talk about guys being able to slot in and building a squad, and guys having to take their opportunities and these are the opportunities that you can't let pass you by.
"This is the standard of rugby that you want to be playing at and with the squad that we've built, certainly over the last two or three years, we always say that guys should slot in seamlessly and that's the way we run things."
With Rory Best missing the tour due to a hamstring issue, O'Mahony is sharing the captaincy duties with Sexton.
He gets the nod to lead his country for the fourth time, having captained Munster since 2012 and led the Lions for the first Test last season and he was delighted to accept the job.
"It's a huge honour to be selected in any Irish team and any time you get a jersey is a special one but obviously, it's just a little more special when you're picked to captain your country," he said.
"It's a very proud moment for me and all my family and stuff, so it's a huge moment.
"Rory's certainly a loss, he's a big character in the group, not just on the pitch but off the pitch.
"He's the oldest and most experienced and someone like that is a big loss, especially to a touring party but he'll be alright, we'll see him in a few weeks and we've had to battle on without him."
O'Mahony is expecting a stern challenge from an Australia team who will be relatively fresh as they begin their international season.
"I think when they get the ruck speed that they want; the width that they play with, with guys like (Will) Genia and (Bernard) Foley running the half-backs, the strike (runners)s that they've picked in their backline, they're incredible - (Dane) Haylett-Petty, (Israel) Folau obviously, (Marika) Koroibete, these guys are incredibly dangerous with quick ruck ball," he said.
"Their ability to strike wide from pretty much anywhere on the pitch is hugely challenging.
"But you add that to the physicality that Australia bring,
"I don't think a huge amount of people have been talking about it, they're one of the most physical teams in the world and that's the reason why they're one of the top teams in the world. That mix is incredibly to stop when they get quick ball."