Johnny Sexton and Joey Carbery both playing Wales a genuine possibility 3 months ago

Johnny Sexton and Joey Carbery both playing Wales a genuine possibility

"We're good mates as well, but we both know that we're pushing and competing with each other."

Joey Carbery knows full well how to deal with the inevitable Johnny Sexton questions he gets in every second interview.

As good as Carbery has been at fullback, this season and last, his performance against Fiji, last November, suggested Ireland could have another play-making gem on its' hands. Such was the level of Carbery's performance against the Fijians that Joe Schmidt was fielding questions about him getting more game time at No.10 despite the fact that he had broken three bones in his wrist on the same night.

Carbery returned in late January and was immediately drafted into the Ireland squad, and matchday 23s for France and Italy. He got a 25-minute run against the Italians but many fans, pundits and ex-players had been calling for him to be starting outhalf.

A tempting compromise was proposed on The Hard Yards podcast [from 52:10 below] with former Munster and Ireland centre weighing in on Carbery and Sexton starting in the same backline.

With Robbie Henshaw ruled out of the remainder of the championship, Joe Schmidt has a midfield position to fill.

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Chris Farrell, Rory Scannell and Garry Ringrose are among six options Schmidt could take but Carbery or Sexton could provide another. England are flourishing with George Ford and Owen Farrell in the 10-12 axis and Ireland could move Bundee Aki to outside centre and slot the playmaking Sexton alongside him.

It would be a big shift for Ireland but they do have two training weeks together in camp and it would certainly pose Wales with some questions. When the idea was raised by Martha Cooney and tackled by former Munster and Ireland centre James Downey.

"Well, Rory Scannell has played outhalf before and has switched to inside centre," he noted. That's a possibility, because he is quite physical and Ireland are not going to lose much that way."

"If you're going down that way [of playing two No.10s], playing Johnny and Joey together is a non-runner to start.

"Why? Just pysicality. If I saw Joey playing against me, or my team, I'd attack him all day. There's only so much he can hold out for."

Downey is not convinced, either, that Carbery should be the go-to outhalf in the unfortunate circumstance of a Sexton injury.

"I'd go with Keatley," he said, "because his game management is crucial out there at international level. He has improved so much this year and he's backing it up in every game he plays, so he knows what to bring.

"You could still bring on Carbery to add impact, if needed."



The Hard Yards


This week:  Bernard Jackman and James Downey join us to preview the Guinness PRO14 final between Leinster and Scarlets


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