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Paddy Jackson is locked in a fierce battle for his spot after Carbery's meteoric rise: Murphy

By Jonathan Bradley

Published 17/11/2016

Competition: Paddy Jackson is targeting a spot on the bench
Competition: Paddy Jackson is targeting a spot on the bench

Too young even to legally buy a beer when Ireland landed in Chicago earlier this month, Joey Carbery was yet to make his international debut when Joe Schmidt's men finally toppled the mighty All Blacks.

A fortnight later, he has celebrated his 21st birthday in some style with a first cap in the win over New Zealand, incidentally the country of his birth, and enjoyed another cameo off the bench against Canada.

And now, after the impressive showings only months after he was showcasing his talents in the All-Ireland League final for Clontarf, Ireland skills coach Richie Murphy says there is no reason why the Leinsterman cannot edge out Ulster's Paddy Jackson for the role of back-up to Johnny Sexton for the rematch with the World champions in Dublin on Saturday.

"Joey has come in and done really well," he said. "He was brought into a situation in Chicago which probably came a little sooner than we would have liked but he proved what a class player he is and what a level-headed type of person he is.

"He fitted in seamlessly and brought the guys forward. Going on with 20 minutes to go when the game was in the balance was a big challenge for him and he came out the other side of it really well."

While it was previously used as a reason why he may have been behind Ian Madigan - now injured and with Bordeaux-Begles in the Top 14 - in the pecking order, one aspect of the game that may play into the more senior Jackson's favour is goal-kicking ability.

"Paddy kicked the ball really well throughout last week, especially the back-end of Thursday and into Saturday against Canada," Murphy explained. "Six from six was really good considering there was two touchlines and two from just inside the 15s.

"Joey will be disappointed. He's had four international kicks and made one. That's where he's at at the moment but there's no doubt he's capable and will have no problems once he gets used to that environment.

"He hasn't kicked a lot for Leinster this year, I think he kicked against Glasgow and was five from six. The more he is put into that situation the more comfortable he'll become."

Murphy also downplayed any concerns over starting out-half Sexton's fitness after the cramp suffered against the All Blacks two weeks ago that opened the door for Carbery.

"He hasn't played a massive amount of rugby this year coming into that Chicago game," he added. "Obviously there was the half against Montpellier (for Leinster) and the following week he didn't play, so he'll be a bit further down the track.

"He trained all last week, he had no problems with that, he had quite a tough session on Friday and he's ready to go.

"He's fine, he's in good form, he trained all last week and shouldn't have any problems."

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