'It could be Carbery vs Kearney' - Luke Fitzgerald on why Munster move might not solve Ireland's out-half issue
Despite Joey Carbery moving to Munster in pursuit of more game time at out-half, Luke Fitzgerald still thinks that the talented 22-year-old could find himself stationed at fullback next season.
Carbery has split his time between the positions during his first two seasons in professional rugby, but was only sparingly used at ten during the 2017/18 campaign after a spell on the sidelines. It was announced last week that Carbery will join Munster next season, with the expectation being that he will play more at out-half as Joe Schmidt seeks to get more experience into his preferred back-up for Johnny Sexton.
However, despite what Schmidt's wishes might be, Fitzgerald feels that Munster boss Johann van Graan will try to get all his top creative players on the field, which could see Carbery played in the number fifteen jersey.
"I think if Bleyendaal's neck surgery goes well that Joey will be replacing Simon Zebo in the team," Fitzgerald said on The Left Wing, Independent.ie's rugby podcast in association with Laya Healthcare.
"I think they'll try to get all their best players on the pitch. Regardless, he will be playing more rugby so I think it is a good move for him.
"Either way, he will be in that team. If I was picking the team and Bleyendaal is fit, I'm picking him at ten and I'm picking Joey at 15. That probably isn't what was said to Joey."
When it was put to Fitzgerald by co-host Will Slattery that the Sexton vs Carbery duel in the first Leinster vs Munster clash next season would be mouthwatering, the former Ireland star reiterated his point that the young player might be going head-to-head with another established international.
"It could be Carbery vs Kearney," he added.
"I really believe that. Simon Zebo is a classy player and he is what Joey could be for them. Leinster weren't picking him at ten either so that argument [that he has to play ten] is defunct in my opinion. Yes, Joey is in the out-half succession plan but he needs to play now."