'That is the only real solution' - Eddie O'Sullivan on why Joey Carbery leaving Leinster would help Ireland
The best thing for the short-term future of Irish rugby could be for Joey Carbery to leave Leinster for a season to get more game time at out-half, according to former Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan.
The talented playmaker has been a regular at fullback for his province this season, only to be thrust into action at number ten during this month's autumn series.
Carbery had an impressive cameo off the bench at out-half against South Africa and then gave a brilliant attacking performance from the start against Fiji, before leaving the field with a fractured wrist.
The 22-year-old is set to be sidelined until after Christmas, which limits his opportunities to get more game time at out-half before the Six Nations.
Speaking on Against the Head on RTE tonight, O'Sullivan said that Carbery and Ireland might benefit from the youngster leaving Leinster for a year in order to mature as an eventual replacement from Johnny Sexton.
"It is extremely unlikely that he is going to get, in the current set-up, enough rugby at ten before the next World Cup to give him a chance to play at the level he needs to play at," he said.
"If anything was to happen to Jonathan Sexton and he doesn't have the experience of managing a game and it comes unstuck, we will all be giving out about it. That has to be fixed somehow. It is a huge dilemma. Nobody wants to say it but maybe he needs a season at ten outside of Leinster if he is going to make that big step.
"I won't suggest anywhere because I'll only get shot for it! That is the only real solution if he is going to get week in, week out rugby at ten. It's not going to be at Leinster because the number one ten for Ireland is at Leinster."
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O'Sullivan later expanded on his point on Off The Ball on Newstalk.
"To be fair to the lad - if he's going to play international ten, he needs to play ten as much as possible," he said.
"He may have to consider that possibility [of leaving Leinster] for his career. It'll be anarchy to say that now because he's so important to Leinster but he's playing full-back for Leinster.
"What happens when Rob Kearney comes back for Leinster and Jonathan Sexton is fit? Does Rob Kearney lose out to Carbery even though Joe Schmidt might have him ahead of Carbery?"