Here's Johnny

Sexton set to call the shots after Carbery gets crucial experience in Oz

The Munster-bound out-half did well in the biggest start of his career so far.

Murray Kinsella reports from Melbourne

LAST WEEK WAS all about Joey Carbery getting his shot at out-half for Ireland in a top-level Test but this one is going to be the Johnny Sexton show.

The 32-year-old, who played 23 minutes off the bench in last Saturday’s defeat to the Wallabies in Brisbane, is set to return to Ireland’s number 10 shirt for the second Test as Joe Schmidt’s side attempt to bring themselves back into the series Down Under.

Johnny Sexton with Taniela Tupou Sexton is set to return at 10 for Ireland. Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

While Michael Cheika mischievously suggested a couple of times that Sexton wouldn’t have been too happy with Carbery getting a starting opportunity last weekend, Schmidt insists that his frontline out-half was a model team-mate.

“He was brilliant,” says Schmidt of Sexton having played the backup role. “He worked with Joey during the week. I think it really is a collaborative environment that we have.

“It’s competitive for sure and Johnny wants to start all the time, just like the other 31 players we brought on tour, but they’re also conscious of being as collective as they can be and adding value to the guys who are starting, and Johnny does a good job of that.

“He’ll have his own frustrations [about last weekend's defeat] but I don’t think any of them have a lot to do with Joey having started.”

Sexton wasn’t faultless when he came on for Carbery in Brisbane, with his missed penalty kick to touch after Israel Folau’s disallowed try a glaring error.

But having Sexton running the show in the starting team, with his proven playmaking, kicking and defensive class, will certainly strengthen Ireland for their shot at levelling the series.

Carbery will return to the apprentice role for now, learning from Sexton and looking to make an impact when Schmidt gives him another opportunity.

Such a long stint on the pitch against the Wallabies was extremely valuable and Carbery loved the experience.

Joey Carbery Carbery enjoyed his biggest Ireland start. Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

“I was delighted to get the opportunity from Joe and I felt it went well,” says Carbery. “Obviously, it was a disappointing result but I was delighted to have got the opportunity and get some minutes under my belt.

“The missed kick [at goal] was annoying but I was happy with how it went and happy to come off injury-free. It was my first game not coming off injured playing number 10; third time lucky!”

Carbery did feel the physical nature of a Test against Tier 1 opposition, with one huge hit from Michael Hooper as he released a pass leaving the Munster-bound out-half on the ground for some time afterwards.

But his team-mates have been impressed with Carbery’s toughness since his Ireland debut in 2016.

“Same with that Fiji game last year, he took a big knock and broke his arm but he still got up and went on,” says CJ Stander.

“He’s a physical man in stature, he takes bigger knocks than me sometimes and gets up and I go, ‘That’s impressive’. For him to do that and still perform at the end of it, he’s a good player.”

Among the key lessons Carbery will take from last weekend is the requirement to be completely in control when Ireland are attacking in the opposition 22, where the pressure rises.

Joey Carbery Carbery did well for Ireland. Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

“Just getting that clear calling maybe when we’re in their 22, that we need to slow things down maybe and just be patient,” says Carbery.

“I think there were a few times when maybe had we been a bit more patient and not chucked an offload we could have broken them.”

Stander, however, believes that Carbery is already well on the way to delivering the clarity in communication needed, as well as the soothing influence many of the best 10s possess.

“He’s very calm,” says Stander. “He’s calm, calm, calm…. to the bone.

“I don’t know if his missus puts him under pressure sometimes, but I know nothing gets under his skin that I can see anyway.

“It would be nice to see in other parts of his life that people put him under pressure, but he’s never under pressure on the pitch.”

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