Joey Carbery needs as much game time as he can safely get, according to former Munster and Ireland flank Alan Quinlan.
With Carbery set to make his first start since January 2020 on Friday night against Scarlets, the question of whether he starts in Europe or in the Pro14 final has been brought up.
Since returning from nearly a year-long injury layoff this February, Carbery has played a total of 39 minutes in his two matches back, coming off the bench against Cardiff and Connacht.
Speaking on Friday's OTB AM, Quinlan believes that, right now, the priority for Carbery would be to get as much game time as he can without overplaying him.
“[Munster] are probably looking at both [starting him in the Pro14 final and Champions Cup],” Quinlan said.
“It just depends how long he plays tonight, and will there be an involvement next week as well?
“Of course you want to start him if he is back fit; it is just about getting minutes under the belt for him.”
With Carbery having such little game time under his belt over the last 12 months, how Munster manage him will be key.
Quinlan, though, believes that it is not just Munster that need to manage their players ahead of the final.
“They will want to start him in that Pro14 final,” Quinlan said. “That is their best opportunity to win a trophy.
“Both coaches have got to make a decision around players and how they target [certain matches].
“They cannot play five weeks on the trot these players, so something has got to give somewhere along the way.”
Quinlan thinks that Carbery is vital to the potential success of Munster in the coming weeks if he remains fit.
“I think Carbery will be vital for Munster if they have an opportunity and a chance and would increase their chances of getting a win against Leinster in that final,” Quinlan said.
“I think it is just important to see him get a run of games in the next couple of weeks and see him improving.
“So, tonight is vital; it is his first start in a long, long time so hopefully that goes well, not just for Munster but for everyone in Irish rugby.”
Munster take on Scarlets tonight in Thomond Park. Kickoff is at 8pm.