Joey Carbery is a good player. He's got bags of potential.
But if you were looking at the reaction to Leinster's newest outhalf - you'd swear he was a shoe-in to the World Rugby player of the year.
Is his physique too much of an issue or is Joey Carberry for Ireland's #22 a genuine question?
— Munster Haka (@MunsterHaka) October 15, 2016
What he's good at, he's very good. He's elusive, he's imaginative. He seems to squeeze past spaces you didn't realise were there. He rivals Garry Ringrose and Robbie Henshaw with his pace and skill with ball in hand.
But those aren't the main attributes coaches want in an outhalf. In fact, those attributes were what stopped Ian Madigan from being trusted as Leinster's first choice ten when Johnny Sexton left.
Carbery doesn't even possess Madigan's bullet pass either. His game management needs work, and his ability to deliver the ball out to the backline to give them time and space to attack is very inconsistent. It's telling that Leinster have taken a leaf out of Munster circa the 00's to power through Castres for the win.
Individual brilliance from Carbery and Nacewa managed to cut through the poor Castres defence, but teams can't rely on individual brilliance to win every game. They need a threatening backline, and that starts with the quality ball coming from ten.
Carbery plays the game at speed - which is terrifying for defences. He attacks the line, and more often than not makes a line-break. Defences aren't used to it. But it won't be long until defences realise that Carbery is much more likely to run the ball than pass, and will shut him down. What happens then? Carbery ran the ball 16 times out of 52 (31%) today - compare that to Sexton's five runs in 29 (17%) against Munster. Sexton is lauded for keeping defences honest by taking the ball to the line AND we know he can release a backline for maximum damage. In fact, Carbery passed just 26 times today, exactly half - while Sexton was up at 60%.
With talents outside him like Ringrose, Henshaw, and Nacewa - why wouldn't Leinster want to get it out wide as much as possible?
I think I might be in love with Joey Carberry. Jonny who? #LEIvCAS #BlueonBleu
— Michael Keane 💙 (@m_keane) October 15, 2016
Fortunately, Carbery is 20-years-old. He's got time on his hand. Is he ready to be considered for international squads? Absolutely not. Leinster are doing the right thing in easing him in slowly to learn the position.
Fans aren't giving him enough time by pushing for international recognition already. He's got a good bit to learn about running a backline at this level - but the signs are good.
Joey Carbery for Ireland... in a year or two.
See Also: Leinster Player Ratings As They Steamroll Castres At The RDS
Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile