Andy Friend insists that Jack Carty is ready to show Andy Farrell he can be relied on as a real option for Ireland in the no 10 selection stakes.
Farrell faces an interesting choice ahead of Ireland’s return to Six Nations action against Italy on Sunday.
If Johnny Sexton has recovered from a hamstring injury, the skipper is the safe option to start as the hosts prepare to chase a big score to keep themselves in title contention.
However Farrell knows exactly what Sexton can do and, with opportunities beginning to run out ahead of the World Cup in 18 months time, the smart move might be to start Joey Carbery – and give Carty a good chunk of time off the bench.
Carty got less than two minutes against France – no time at all to get up to the pitch of the battle and to try to direct a dramatic late winning score.
“I don’t know whether Johnny’s fit but it’s so hard because I’m not there watching the training, and you do pick up a hell of a lot there,” said Connacht head coach Friend.
“Joey Carbery did a really good job against France and Johnny was really good the weekend before – it was hard for Jack Carty to come on with 90 seconds remaining but I believe that was a forced substitution.
“I reckon you’ve got some really good 10s there. What would I do? I don’t know – put me in the chair and I’ll make the decision.
“Ah, I’m not asking to be put in the chair either!
“I’ve no doubt Jack’s ready and given the chance, he’ll take that without a shadow of a doubt.
“So it comes down to Andy Farrell and his group of coaches, when he thinks that time is right.
“Every time we have asked Jack to lead our team, he has done it really well this season. That’s what has got him into that Irish set-up.
“So when they feel the time is right, they’ll give him that chance – and I tell you now he won’t let you down.”
Ulster prop Tom O’Toole (hamstring) is the only injury casualty among the 14 players released to play for their provinces last weekend.
The other 23 met up for a two-day camp in Abbotstown last Thursday and Friday.
Friend took a call from Ireland’s coaching staff after the loss to France, asking if Carty would play against the Scarlets if released.
“I know Andy Farrell was keen to make sure that he got game time, he contacted us to say if we release Jack will you use him and it was, ‘100% we’ll use him’, as we’ll use Dave Heffernan or any of those boys if we can get them for a week of training,” said Friend.
“You want the players aspiring to play for their country to go up to the camps and then come back feeling like they’re valued and have had some input.
“So that shows the great environment they have.
“It was a good call by Andy’s team to release him. Jack and Heff used their time very wisely, they both put in really good shifts.
“It was really important for him and for us, too. Jack came back in quite seamlessly, he was our captain at the weekend and controlled the game beautifully for us.
“That’s all he can do at the moment.
“I’d love to see him in that (Ireland) 23 again, to see him get more minutes but until they announce it, I don’t know what they’ll be doing there.”
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