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Leaders Questions with Stuart Lancaster

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Leaders Questions with Stuart Lancaster

The newfound competition between Joey Carbery and JJ Hanrahan for the starting fly-half position at Munster is good for the province, according to Keith Woods.

Joey Carbery hasn’t played for the province since returning from the Rugby World Cup with an ankle injury.

Tyler Bleyendaal has been hampered by a recurring neck injury for much of Munster’s season, leaving Hanrahan as Munster's sole experienced fly-half.

While obviously not ideal for Munster, Keith Woods told Off The Ball that it has allowed Hanrahan to develop his game by getting regular starts in big matches.

“I’m thrilled for JJ Hanrahan because he’s had a consistent amount of game time. He’s also stopped trying to force the game.

“So when he was getting very little game time he’d come on and he’d have to do something. That’s a very difficult place to be.

“I think he’s playing very well but it’s whether he can play very well in the very big games. You’ll never know it until he starts to play it,” Hanrahan said.

While Carbery is expected to start for Munster in the big matches when he fully returns from injury, Hanrahan has impressed in both the Pro14 and Heineken Champions Cup this season.

While Wood expects Carbery to retake his position as first-choice fly-half, Wood felt that having another quality operator at 10 has been a crucial positive for Munster.

“We know Joey Carbery can [play well in the big games]. But now that JJ [Hanrahan] actually has a body of work beneath him I think it actually puts Munster in a much stronger position than they were in, especially with Tyler [Bleyendaal] injured.

“For me, I would say Joey Carbery is the more accomplished 10. But he’s a really different type of 10.

“But JJ [Hanrahan] is now a proper alternative and I don’t think he had been for the last number of years,” Wood said.

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