Ronan O'Gara can't understand why Munster aren't in for Joey Carbery and says 'there's no Irish outhalf ready to play in Ulster'
Munster and Ireland legend Ronan O'Gara has admitted that he is 'struggling to understand' why his former province have not thrown their hat into the ring in the race to sign Joey Carbery.
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt met with the Athy native last weekend and is understood to be urging him to move north to Ulster but O'Gara believes Thomond Park would be a better fit for the 22-year-old.
Ian Keatley's failure to fire in Munster's recent Champions Cup semi-final defeat to Racing 92, JJ Hanrahan's indifferent form since his return from Northampton and Tyler Bleyendaal's injury woes mean Johann van Graan, who has admitted he wants to expand his side's attacking game, would benefit from having a player like Carbery among his ranks.
Writing in his column in today's Irish Examiner, O'Gara claimed that there was no Irish outhalf ready to take over from Paddy Jackson at the Kingspan Stadium and if the prognosis on Bleyendaal is poor, Munster should try and bring Carbery to Limerick.
"It is obviously a big tour for Joey Carbery, but every bit as big, and bigger, is the decision of where he plays in club rugby from next autumn. I am struggling to understand (again, not being privy to the thoughts of Landsdowne Road on this) why Munster are not in the frame for Carbery," he said.
"Maybe they are behind the scenes.
"Ian Keatley is 31 now, so that's not succession planning. And on form, Carbery is ahead of JJ Hanrahan.
"The unknown factor in this is Tyler Bleyendaal, who has been so unlucky with a problematic neck issue. One presumes if he is fit he starts for Munster next season, hence coming into the frame for Ireland.
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"But we aren't sure when Tyler is available again to resume his professional career. If he isn't, then Carbery coming to Munster becomes a live debate surely?
"Hopefully it's good news on Tyler. If so, he's the one looking to challenge Johnny (Sexton) for the World Cup with Carbery. But if Tyler's injury problems persist, it makes sense for Munster and for the national team to have Carbery in Munster.
"Anyone looking for the easy fit sees there's no Irish outhalf ready to play in Ulster, but the easy fit isn't always the best solution for player and country."
It was reported in yesterday's Herald that Carbery was strongly considering heeding Schmidt's advice and is set to agree to a one-season deal before returning to Leinster in 2019/20.