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Comment: If Joey Carbery does move to Munster it must be for the long haul

By David Kelly

It seems as if the weight of the world must be resting upon the slight shoulders of Joey Carbery. Or, at the very least, the weight of the World Cup.

The trauma of Ireland's exit in 2015 feeds into every strategic move the IRFU have been making ever since to ensure there is not a repeat scenario in 2019.

Now, and for several weeks during the run-in to a Leinster campaign fraught with anticipation of unprecedented success, Carbery has become a central figure in the IRFU's plan of action.

This week, Munster coach Johann van Graan met with Carbery, at whose instigation one is unsure.

It is likely that when he meets the media tomorrow, the national coach Joe Schmidt will provide an update on a saga that has been allowed to drag on at a stressful time for both the player and his history-chasing province.

Already, it seems quite clear and obvious to all that the gifted playmaker has rebuffed any attempts to pursue a short-term career at Ulster, and Brian O'Driscoll, amongst many others, has been vocal in explaining the pitfalls of such a path.

So Munster seems the likelier option.

Schmidt can view his reserve ten strutting his stuff on a consistently high level for a full season, with the additional bonus of doing so alongside one of the world's best scrum-halves in Conor Murray.

Carbery will benefit from consistent game-time, secure in the knowledge that his starting berth and position will be guaranteed.

And Munster accrue the qualities of an international class out-half, a quality that many experts have indicated is not currently available to them.

This much was evident when Van Graan's uncertain selection policy in the crunch time of their season saw him remove Ian Keatley and place JJ Hanrahan in his stead.

But will the move, if confirmed at all this week, really satisfy everyone?

Some Munster supporters may approve, particularly as there is everything to suggest that a player of Carbery's undoubted class would improve any team, particularly one desperate for creativity and line-breaking ability.

Others could be forgiven their scepticism. The latter cohort might reasonably question just why they should indulge the priorities of the national team above that of their own?

Munster already have four out-halves on their books. Do they really need a fifth?

Van Graan's difficulty, regardless of whether or not he - or indeed Munster - are being gently prodded by those in Lansdowne Road who ultimately write the cheques, is that his quantity of tens may not necessarily equate to quality.

Keatley's demotion represented a significant policy shift.

Unfortunately, Tyler Bleyendaal's suitability for the role remains undermined by consistent injury.

That leaves Hanrahan, the returning prodigal who originally left Munster in frustration at not getting an extended run in a key play-making role but returned to find he could still not upset the status quo.

If this was the case, the arrival of Carbery would seem to deposit him back in square one.

The fourth out-half - Bill Johnson - is another impressive talent but one who has been dogged by injury.

Carbery remains younger than Jonathan Sexton when he finally emerged as Leinster's main man. Carbery has also expressed how he has enjoyed absorbing the master-class from one of the world's best tens, but now his exposure could be drastically limited should he opt to move.

It's a personal choice but, when he makes it, Carbery should realise that a short-term decision could have far-reaching consequences.

As for Munster, they may welcome the transfer but, if they do, they must insist that it is not a one-year loan as that would prove highly unsatisfactory for the player, club and supporters, all of whom must demand unequivocal commitment.

Belfast Telegraph

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