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'This is a bit of a last chance saloon for him' - Heaslip's warning for Carty

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell is due to name is squad for the Six Nations today.

Jack Carty has been in superb form for Connacht this season.
Jack Carty has been in superb form for Connacht this season.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

JAMIE HEASLIP BELIEVES Jack Carty is now in last chance saloon territory with Ireland, ahead of today’s Six Nations squad announcement.

Heaslip was speaking alongside fellow former Ireland international Alan Quinlan at the Aviva Stadium this morning as RTÉ and Virgin Media launched their live coverage of the 2022 Six Nations.

The partnership between RTÉ and Virgin Media includes free-to-air coverage of every game in the men’s, women’s and U20s tournaments.

Head coach Andy Farrell is due to name his Ireland squad later today, and both Quinlan and Healsip have backed Connacht out-half Carty to return to the fold given his strong form this season.

The 29-year-old was called into the Ireland squad ahead of the final November international against Argentina earlier this season, but has not been capped since featuring at the 2019 World Cup. However he has rediscovered his best form this season while Munster’s Joey Carbery and Leinster’s Harry Byrne have been hit with injuries.

Sexton has just returned to action following his own spell on the sidelines – coming off the bench in Leinster’s win over Montpellier on Sunday – and is expected to once again lead Ireland in their opening Six Nations fixture against Wales on 5 February. 

andy-farrell-and-jack-carty Carty has not been capped since featuring at the 2019 World Cup. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

But the in-form Carty has been backed to return to the squad and push for a place on the bench.

“I think it has to be Jack Carty at this stage because his form has been exceptional,” Quinlan said.

“Obviously what happened at the World Cup ( in 2019), there was a bit of a hangover there and it affected his confidence and ability as well.

With Joey Carbery out it’s obviously a really pivotal position and I just think that the way he has played the last few months has been really exciting. He has grown his game, has more control to his game, and looks to have his confidence and that bit of excitement that you need back.

“It will be interesting to see how that pans out. Johnny is not giving up the jersey and we saw how outstanding his performances were in November and how important he still is for this team.”

“Yeah, 100%,” added Heaslip, ”but he (Carty) has got to take the opportunity.

“This is a bit of a last chance saloon for him I think if he gets his chance with Ireland. There’s a lot of other guys sniffing around but for me Johnny is the GOAT. He’s not going anywhere. He’s the Tom Brady of the IRFU right now and he’s not going to give up that jersey and he’s head and shoulders above everyone else right now.”

“Ross Byrne is another candidate that needs to be mentioned,” Quinlan said.

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“He is rock solid every time he plays for Leinster. He is going to be in the mix but there will be an argument for trying that spark that Carty brings. You get unbelievable control and I’m a big fan of Ross Byrne as well but it is hard to ignore Jack Carty.

“I wouldn’t say it is his last-chance saloon but definitely he has to take this opportunity if he gets in among the squad. He may not start but just how he performs in training, what he brings and how he impresses the coaches: I think it is a great opportunity for him.”

Heaslip, who won 95 caps for Ireland during his playing career, added that he would also like to see the uncapped Ciarán Frawley get an opportunity. 

“Another one to look at would potentially be Frawley to come in as a 10/12 option to open up the field, because we are trying to play a bit of an expansive game, have two playmakers on the field, and Frawley at 12 gives you that option. So he could be another latecomer into it.”

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Ciarán Kennedy

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