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Schmidt: 'We really wanted to get Joey out there at 10 at some stage'

The 22-year-old is set for the biggest start of his career as he guides Ireland against the Wallabies.

Murray Kinsella reports from Brisbane

IT ALWAYS SEEMED probable that Joey Carbery would get a start at out-half on Ireland’s tour of Australia, but few would have predicted it would come in the opening Test against the Wallabies.

The 22-year-old will wear Ireland’s number 10 shirt at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday, just over a week after he confirmed his move to Munster next season.

Joey Carbery during training Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

That switch is motivated by his desire to play big games at out-half as frequently as possible, while Ireland boss Schmidt has recognised that need too and has handed Carbery the biggest start of his career this weekend.

Johnny Sexton is included on the bench, as are his Leinster team-mates Tadhg Furlong, Cian Healy, Sean Cronin, while another change to the Grand Slam-winning team means Garry Ringrose is absent as Robbie Henshaw and Bundee Aki start in midfield.

“It was similar to the decision-making in some of the other positions, like Tadhg,” said Schmidt when asked about his thinking around starting Carbery ahead of Sexton.

“Some of those [Leinster] guys have had some reasonably tough weeks, it was an opportunity really.

One of the things with Joey, we really wanted to get him out there at number 10 at some stage and we thought that the best window was to give him the longest preparation window possible.

“As I said, before I left Dublin, it was a surprise to myself that Joey decided to go to Munster. We didn’t realise that he was going to get that opportunity, we’d already talked about giving him this opportunity. So, we decided to forge ahead with it.”

While many people view Carbery and Sexton as rather different players in terms of their skillsets, Schmidt doesn’t see it that way.

“Probably not as much as people think,” said Schmidt. “I think Johnny has developed into a really good running threat when you look at some of the opportunities he took in the Six Nations, just as Joey would be seen as a running threat.

Joe Schmidt Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“I think defensively Joey has played a lot at fullback and he’d be very used to that high-speed tackle that’s often very difficult to make, especially when someone has got two options to go left or right. You’ve got to stay really balanced and try to limit them to one option.

“So, manipulating an attacking player and trying to get that tackle in – Joey is very good at it.

“Johnny is very good at it because invariably for us he ended up defending on the edge quite often which happens with a lot of teams. Bernard Foley does it really well for the Wallabies.

“I guess it’s the maturity, really. Johnny runs a really solid game. People are deferential to Johnny because he has been in the seat for a long time.

“But if he has been in the seat for a long time and no one else gets to sit in it, then we just leave ourselves a little bit exposed if he’s not in the seat.

“It’s a super opportunity for young Joey to try and make sure he learns a bit each opportunity he does get.”

Carbery’s inclusion isn’t the only surprise in Ireland’s side for the first Test, with an all-changed front row of Jack McGrath, Rob Herring and John Ryan starting against the Wallabies.

There was, of course, temptation for Schmidt to simply field as many of the same players who had started against England back in March as possible, excluding the injured Rory Best.

A view of the Irish team training Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

However, the Ireland boss felt that his team’s extended build-up to the first Test – a week and a half together – meant this game was the best chance to try a couple of new combinations.

“It was trying to get a balance,” said Schmidt.

“We decided that it was an opportunity that would probably be more difficult to engineer during the tour because the longest window of preparation… we trained last Thursday in Dublin, then we really trained fully on Tuesday and Thursday of this week.

“Within those three training sessions, it gave Joey an opportunity to slot himself in there, as it did for John Ryan and Rob Herring in a similar vein. It’s probably a good opportunity for some of those people to put their hand up.”

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Murray Kinsella

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