Sunday 15 September 2019

Dempsey hails Carbery's potential in full-back role

Joey Carbery is the last line of defence and he is revelling in the role as an attacking force. Photo: Sportsfile
Joey Carbery is the last line of defence and he is revelling in the role as an attacking force. Photo: Sportsfile
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Famously, when Graham Henry spotted Joey Carbery running lines at Leinster's pre-season training last year, the former All Black coach instantly turned to Leo Cullen and said: "There's your out-half for the next 10 years".

Just over a roller-coaster year on, the Auckland-born, Athy-raised 21-year-old is flying high in blue but he is performing with the No 15 jersey on his back.

Partly, it is a convenient fix. Rob Kearney is out injured, James Lowe has yet to arrive and Isa Nacewa is needed in the centre. Johnny Sexton is first-choice No 10 and Ross Byrne is showing himself to be an able replacement.

So, Carbery is the last line of defence and he is revelling in the role as an attacking force.

Working under the tutelage of Girvan Dempsey can't but help the youngster adapt to the new position.

Very much a traditional full-back, Leinster's assistant coach won 82 Ireland caps in the role and was known for his assuredness in the position.

He reckons Carbery has what's needed to make the position his own.

Skill-set "Joey's a quality player, he does have an unbelievable skill-set, ability and flair," Dempsey said.

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"Across all of the coaches we're trying to tweak a few little things in terms of his positional play.

"It is still quite new to him, everyone forgets how young he is.

"His positional play is a good one, aerial skills, contact ruck in wide areas, stuff like that. He picks it up so quickly, he sees it himself before you get a chance to say it to him."

Against Montpellier last weekend, Carbery began the move that led to Leinster's first try with a clever counter before finishing it with a lovely, arcing outside break. He also laid on the bonus-point score for Barry Daly.

His game wasn't perfect and his kicking in particular will need work, but Leinster are confident he'll continue to develop.

"He's been coming on unbelievably well," Dempsey said.

"He's been excellent, brilliant, so easy to coach. He loves the game, loves training.

"It was a challenge, we identified a lot of the things that Montpellier had. We'd identified (Ruan) Pienaar was a massive kicking threat, we weren't sure in our scout whether (Aaron) Cruden was going to play but, likewise, he has a big kicking game. Jessie Mogg at full-back has a big left boot.

"It was always going to be a challenging day with the weather conditions for a full-back, but he coped with it all well."

Ireland's shortage of out-halves may see Carbery repositioned come November, but he is adding another string to his bow in the meantime.

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