'Joey Carbery starts two games at the World Cup' - Brian O'Driscoll feels Munster flyhalf is still '20pc' behind Johnny Sexton
Brian O'Driscoll believes Joey Carbery will start two games in the upcoming Six Nations and two Rugby World Cup encounters but is still playing second fiddled at flyhalf to Johnny Sexton.
Some feisty exchanges between Carbery and Sexton at Thomond Park and the Munster playmaker's form since has sparked debate about whether there could be a changing of the guard at number 10 for Ireland.
O'Driscoll feels that although the gap may not be as big, Sexton was last year's World Rugby player of the year and still holds the edge.
"Italy may be a good game to start Joey, it might be a good idea to give him another game. Johnny has been relatively injury-free but he's 33. Is there a chance he might not play in the world cup? Of course. He could pick up a knock like any other player and you've got to be equipped to be able to deal with that," O'Driscoll told Off The Ball.
"Joey hasn't had many starts at 10 and the more starts at 10 he gets, the more confidence he'll develop, the more he'll know the gamplan and the control that's necessitated at international level versus provincial level, everything's quicker at international level. The more gametime, the better.
"Joey's different. Johnny is the Peyton Manning, there is still a looseness to Joey and it's exciting.
"Johnny Sexton is the world player of the year. He lost two games last year I think.
"Can you remember a bad performance? Didn't play well against Munster... that's it.
"He's the best player in the world. He's been consistently excellent for 10 years. He just had his best year at 33. He's got such a fire and burning ambition to get better as well.
"You've to put everything in context. Yes, you can get excited about Joey Carbery's performance because he was outstanding but you are dealing with one of the all-time greats.
"You play your best team. Joey was 30pc behind Johnny, he's probably 20pc now but he's still 20pc behind him in controlling the game and being able to dictate play.
"Playing Gloucester is very different to playing England.
"Carbery's going to get two games in the World Cup. Johnny will play Japan and Scotland, Joey will get the next two. All going well, Johnny will be back in for the quarter-finals. That's how it will be mapped out.
"I think Joey will get at least one start in the Six Nations. Maybe France at home will be a good game to give him a starting berth (as well as Italy).
"Johnny for England, Scotland and Wales."
Could Joey Carbery oust Johnny Sexton?
"There's not going to be enough of a fall off in form from Johnny Sexton or an increase from Joey to justify it. Joey has all the capabilities to be an excellent international player. I would give him a 2pc chance of playing ahead of Sexton," he added.