Joey Carbery should start multiple games for Ireland in November, according to Brian O'Driscoll.
Entering the season fully healthy with a Munster team ready to compete at the highest level, this promises to be a big year for Joey Carbery.
Carbery, 25, is still young but has more experience than his competitors hoping to be the long-term successor to Jonathan Sexton. Furthermore, he's the only candidate after Sexton who is the first-choice starter at his province.
The likes of Ben Healy, Harry Byrne and further down the line Jack Crowley aren't going to get the same quality of playing time as Carbery. Byrne and Healy may play a lot in the United Rugby Championship but don't figure to start European games.
Brian O'Driscoll believes it's those games and international games that will really benefit Carbery and Ireland. That starts with the November Internationals.
“I think the reality is you're going to have to give Joey Carbery some game time," he said.
"It would be foolish of Andy Farrell if he put all his eggs into the Jonathan Sexton basket over the course of the next 15 months or however long it is to the next World Cup.
"Joey Carbery, all things being equal at the moment, is the next in line and he's going to need to get some game time. He needs some high-end URC games and he's obviously going to get international rugby before he gets European rugby.
"He just needs high-caliber games where space is going to be squeezed and where we can see him growing into that 10 jersey all the more.
"He's still relatively young from games played internationally and time on field....He's a guy that sees the game very quickly so I think he'll respond well to it. Joey Carbery is going to have to get a couple of games in November. We know what Jonathan Sexton is capable of doing.”
With that said, O'Driscoll didn't think Carbery set the world on fire for Munster at the weekend. His potential is there but he needs to refine his talent.
"There are some things I think he needs to sharpen up in his game.
"Watching the Ireland-USA game a couple of weeks ago, I do feel as though he needs to learn how to square carry to straighten up his backline for him and create space for his big ball carriers outside him or his backs outside him.
"He is in the habit of turning his shoulders and passing in the direction of which he's situated rather than keeping his shoulders square to the defensive line and whipping passes across, which Sexton is excellent at doing.
"It's a difficult thing to do. From a defensive point of view, as soon as I see you turning your shoulders to the touchline, I know that you're not a threat. I know that the pass is gone and that means immediately I'm pushing off, I'm wedging across and I'm going to be security for the next defender on the inside shoulder.
"I'm going to communicate that and it's more likelihood of a double hit, depending on where that ball is going to."
By squaring himself to the line, Carbery can draw more attention and allow that outside of him to play in space. That leads to more expansive attacking rugby featuring offloads and soft shoulders.
"The really great 10s, if you watch over the careers of the Johnny Wilkinsons, the Dan Carters...it's how square their carries are and it's how late their pass is.
"There's a bit of self-preservation in that running across the field to deliver your pass. The harder thing to do is hit it square because you invite those late collisions to come on, but that's part and parcel of what you need to do to create space for others outside you.”
For as much criticism as Sexton gets for constantly going down injured, it's actually a reflection on how well he plays his position. Carbery can learn from watching his teammate on how to maximize his impact in attack.
But surpassed that specific aspect, Carbery offers a threat that no other Irish out half does.
"There are definitely aspects of his game to get excited about as well.
"He's an attacking threat like I don't think we have in other 10s across the board, including Jonathan Sexton. He's a completely different attacking type of player than Jonathan Sexton."
You can listen to Brian O'Driscoll on Off The Ball by downloading the OTB App on your phone.
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