Joe Schmidt pokes fun at photo of meeting with Joey Carbery
Joey Carbery's move to Munster was news to a lot of people in Irish Rugby, not least Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt.
The New Zealander said that Carbery's decision to move down to Limerick next season was 'new news to him' and that 'he hadn't had the time to digest' the news that his back-up fly-half was set to switch clubs.
Joe Schmidt doesn't miss much, if anything at all in Irish Rugby, so it's odd that the news is new to him given that he sat down with Leinster head coach Leo Cullen and IRFU performance manager David Nucifora to discuss this very matter before Leinster's Champions Cup semi-final with the Scarlets last month.
The Ireland coach also sat down with Joey Carbery and Ireland forwards coach Simon Easterby for coffee recently to presumably discuss the same matter.
The trio's meeting was photographed and made public, adding further speculation that Schmidt was keen to see the player switch clubs in a bid to receive more gametime ahead of next year's Rugby World Cup in Japan.
Schmidt insists that Carbery's decision to move to Munster was the player's choice, however, he did use Thursday's press conference at Carton House to poke a light jab at the fact that their meeting was photographed.
Simon Easterby Joe ( the bully ) Schmidt and little Joey Carbery " we're going to make you an offer you won't refuse Joey Ulster " you want to play for Ireland 😉 pic.twitter.com/xtrklMIvG8
— Odran OBrien (@Outhalf) April 30, 2018
"It's new news to me," said Schmidt of Carbery's decision to move south next season. "I haven't had time to digest it personally. It's a decision Joey has taken a bit of time over. It doesn't seem to have affected his performances any. I think he's played very well.
"I understand why Leinster would be desperately keen to hang on to him and why Munster feel that it's a huge bonus for them.
"That's a decision he's made. Apart from him catching up with me, which was nicely photographed, I've left him to it."
Schmidt also said that the intention of the meeting with Cullen was to discuss the possibility of moving either Carbery or fellow Leinster fly-half Ross Byrne to Ulster.
SportsJOE understands that Byrne had no interest in moving north while Carbery entertained the idea before Munster then became a viable option.
"The inital conversation with Leo and myself and David Nucifora was not the best timing for any of us," added Schmidt.
"It certainly wasn't where I wanted to be at the time but I had a job to do. All we asked was if there was any interest for Ross (Byrne) or Joey to go up to Ulster.
"Ulster at the time were looking for a foreign option. They needed to know before midday the following day and so we had to see if there was any chance at all if any of our local number 10's were interested.
"If there was no interest then it was probably a different story. There was a bit of interest from Joey at the time. He mulled that over and I think he got an approach from Munster in the interim and it digressed then into a different conversation."
Carbery joins Munster on a two-year deal and will arrive at the club alongside EPCR Player of the Year nominee Tadhg Beirne next season.