Former Ireland International Fiona Hayes joined Wednesday Night Rugby to discuss Connacht's Jack Carty.
Jack Carty epitomizes Connacht.
He's an exciting, dynamic out half with the ball in his hands. But he's inconsistent. Similar to Connacht, he's generally viewed as subpar to his peers around the country. Andy Farrell didn't include Carty in his Ireland squad for the November Internationals, despite him being the form out half in the country.
With Johnny Sexton hurt, Joey Carbery unimpressive and Harry Byrne still unproven, there's an argument for Carty over each of Ireland's out halves. But he's not viewed as an equal to them, so he's not included.
That's what it looks like from the outside looking in.
No matter what Carty does, he probably won't be part of Farrell's squads moving forward.
After Carty orchestrated Connacht's 36-11 victory over Ulster at the weekend, his Connacht head coach Andy Friend commended his attitude and performance.
“I thought Jack did pretty well (in Connacht’s win over Ulster). He is really growing into the captaincy and seems to like that. He’s taking control as a 10 and as the skipper. I was really proud of his performance.”
Friend obviously has to hold back any criticism of those who select the Ireland squad. Fiona Hayes doesn't have to hold back any criticism of the Ireland coaching staff. She expressed her confusion with the decision to Joe Molloy on Wednesday Night Rugby.
"I read comments the previous week that made me think he was in Farrell's mind," Hayes said.
"Jack obviously spoke about him and Andy Farrell and what he needed to work on. For me, one of the things I thought he would have had to work on was his leadership qualities, his control of the game. We know what he can do kicking-wise, we know what he can do when he's on the gain line. I think he's really, really upped it.
"I'm baffled by [his exclusion]."
There is only one viable explanation for Hayes. But even that one doesn't make much sense.
"The only thing I could think of is that he's looking to the future. You've Harry Byrne in there. I don't understand it. Bar Johnny, I don't think either of the two other lads have proven themselves at that level yet. Obviously Joey has at times, but I mean right now form-wise we haven't seen it from Joey. And Harry, we all know he has it but we haven't got the chance to see it."
Joey Carbery has had big moments for Ireland. He played in big games for Munster and Ireland. But Hayes is right that those games were a long time ago and are not plentiful. He only has 24 caps for Ireland whereas 29-year-old Jack Carty has 10.
Hayes believes one of those caps is why Carty isn't in the squad.
"I would imagine we've never gotten over what happened in Japan."
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