Former Leinster coach Matt Williams joined Wednesday Night Rugby to discuss Joey Carbery, Ben Healy and Munster.
Not much is going right in Munster as of late.
Johan van Graan's final season is petering out in the worst possible way. Munster have an upcoming Champions Cup two-legged tie against Exeter. But they're without Dave Kilcoyne, Tadgh Beirne and Gavin Coombes. Three of their most important players.
Munster have no real expectations for the rest of this season. Van Graan's imminent departure means everyone is just looking for who is replacement is. The ideal option would be to give younger players extended minutes. That seems unlikely.
One of those younger players is Ben Healy. The Munster out-half is trapped behind Joey Carbery on the Munster bench.
But Carbery moved to fullback to accommodate Healy against Leinster. For the moment, that might be Munster's best lineup and not just a move to give a young player more minutes. Matt Williams believes that Carbery hasn't fully reclaimed his style of play since his 2019 injury and Healy could help him regain form.
"I like Healy as a 10," Williams said.
"He's a good player. I really rate him, he's got huge potential. I don't think Joey, since his ankle injury, has taken the ball forward as a 10 as he used to. He's much more static and that is not efficient attacking play for a 10. If you watch Sexton or Ross Byrne the other day...you have to be moving onto the ball before you catch it.
"You can't be standing still as a 10."
Williams went on to explain that the out-half moving onto the ball forces the defence to hold its line and respect the interior action. If the out-half is too deep, he's not a running threat. When the ball is then shifted to the outside, the defensive line can drift outside or swarm the centers.
It's easier for defensive lines to shoot up and take risks if they're not playing on their heels.
Situation is hugely important also. Ross Byrne plays on the front foot but he plays behind a dominant Leinster pack. It's easier for him to keep stepping into the line because he knows the reward will come. For Carbery, that's not always the case. The Munster pack gives him front foot ball but not against every team.
Williams made an interesting comparison for Carbery: England's Marcus Smith.
"He hasn't had a decent run of games [since the ankle injury in 2019] to build up his self-belief. That's a lot of confidence. Because as a 10 you've only got half a second on the ball to make decisions. Your automatic reaction is to stay still to give yourself more time. It's why Sexton is so great. He does everything counter-intuitively.
"Look across the water to Marcus Smith. Look at him with Harlequins, a fantastic attacking player. For England, he was so deep and in the pocket. Not moving onto the ball. England's attack was horrible. The kicking game was magnificent.
"But Marcus Smith's ability to get the attack going for England was suffering for the exact same problems that Joey has at the moment."
An optimistic view is that Carbery is preserving himself until he has a coaching staff that will allow him to actually play expansive rugby.
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