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D'Arcy Not Convinced Positions Are 'Up For Grabs' In Ireland v Italy Game

D'Arcy Not Convinced Positions Are 'Up For Grabs' In Ireland v Italy Game
By Jonathan Byrne

The Aviva Stadium hosts Ireland v Italy on Sunday and many expect it to be a routine outing for Andy Farrell's side.

After Ireland's disappointing loss to France two weeks ago, they'll be looking to put that behind them and build with a strong display in front of a home crowd.

More often than not we see a much-changed side for Ireland v Italy encounters in the Six Nations and there are some new names coming into the fold.

Ulster's Michael Lowry earns his first cap and Dan Sheehan is set to make his first test start. But much talk in the build-up has surrounded the number ten picture.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0umo0VZoTU

Andy Farrell has put his faith in Joey Carberry to start once again as Johnny Sexton returns on the bench, after missing the game in Paris through injury.

Speaking on The Takeaway with Chicago Town, 82-time capped Irish international Gordon D'Arcy believes Farrell made the right decision.

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"I think Carberry had to start," he said. "I think he did enough in Paris and there was no necessity to rush Johnny back in. We have to start dividing that game plan."

"If these are going to be our two tens over the next eighteen months, they both need to be comfortable. There's a gap in experience and that needs to be breached for Joey Carberry."

Former Italian international and Irish born out-half, Ian McKinley, also agreed with the backing of Carberry to start the Ireland v Italy match.

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"I thought he covered himself pretty well (against France). I think his kicking off the ground, out of hand, off the tee was very good, out of hand was very good."

"You don't want to get into a dangerous debate of comparing him all the time to Sexton. Johnny is Johnny for a reason. He's gotten there for incredibly consistent performances over the years."

"You have to start Joey Carberry. It's a perfect game for him and it's a perfect game to suit his style of rugby which is fast tempo," McKinley added.

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Squad Depth For Ireland v Italy

A few of the names given the nod this weekend will be hoping to make an impression on Andy Farrell and his coaching staff, to be within a shout of starting again.

However, D'Arcy doesn't necessarily think there are many positions up for debate. "Selection wise I think some of them were forced," D'Arcy said.

I'm not sure Ryan Baird would be getting the game time he is getting had two of the other second rows been available. But I'm delighted he is because he does give a different athleticism than any of the other second rows that we have. Even (compared to) Tadhg Beirne, he's a different option. James Lowe is always coming back in, he's got so much credit in the bank from November. Everywhere else - it's a little bit safe, you know, Lowry coming in is one I am excited about. Hopefully, he does what he's been doing for Ulster in the green jersey this weekend.

When it comes to naming the players that are knocking on the door of cementing a starting spot, D'Arcy points to the wings with Mack Hansen and James Lowe.

"I think if you look at the players that are out ... if both wingers play to the potential we know they can then there's probably a decision on the wings."

"In the centre, your picking between two Lions centres at inside centre and probably Garry Ringrose on the outside. Is there a bad decision there?"

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"I'm not so sure there's too many positions up for grabs other than players getting experience and getting in front of Andy Farrell in a matchday scenario."

D'Arcy has plenty of experience against Italian sides and he doesn't see an upset on the cards come Sunday. He expects Ireland to impress at the Aviva.

"If you look at the matchups individually, as well as collectively, I don't see much room for Italy in this one," he said.

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"Undoubtedly, motivated Jonny Sexton to come off the bench, I wouldn't say there would be any drop off in tempo when substitutions are made."

See Also: Brian O'Driscoll Rubbishes Claims Of Leinster Bias In Ireland Squad

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