Sunday 21 January 2018

'Kearney seems to look for contact' - Neil Francis backs 'superstar' Carbery to hold onto fullback spot

Rob Kearney (left) and Joey Carbery (right).
Rob Kearney (left) and Joey Carbery (right). Sportsdesk

Neil Francis is backing Joey Carbery to hang onto the Leinster number 15 jersey for their Champions Cup semi-final after his Man of the Match display against Wasps in the last eight.

After excelling for Leinster at fullback during the Six Nations, Carbery got the nod for the crucial quarter-final at the Aviva Stadium last Saturday, with Ireland international Rob Kearney ruled out with a bicep injury.

Leinster haven't yet announced a return date for Kearney, but speaking on The Last Word with Matt Cooper yesterday, Sunday Independent columnist Francis explained why he would like to see Carbery in the team to face Clermont.

"His pace is one of the things that makes him, and his hands," Francis said.

"That pass to Nacewa was first class. Somebody, I'm not sure if it is Joe [Schmidt] or the Leinster management, has obviously decided that he is going to be [a fullback]. I'm not sure how much Rob Kearney has left but one of the things that he [Carbery] did do that Rob doesn't do is that he looks to not look for contact. When he runs up to the tackle line he is looking for gaps and a lot of the time Rob Kearney seems to look for contact. The try he made for Conan illustrated that.

"He looked around, shaped to go inside and moved with incredible pace and that's what he gives. I've said it all along, he is a superstar. At this stage, I can't see Leinster going into the Clermont game without him."

It has been a whirlwind season for the 21-year-old Carbery, with the former Blackrock College star winning his first international cap off the bench in Chicago as Ireland beat the All Blacks for the first time in their history. This time last year, Carbery was starring for Clontarf en route to an AIL crown, but is now one of Leinster's most potent attacking threats.

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