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Joey Carbery had interest in Ulster move but decision will now be made on potential recruits: Schmidt

By Gareth Hanna

Joey Carbery was interested in a move to Ulster before Munster hijacked the deal, according to Ireland coach Joe Schmidt.

The Leinster flyhalf's move south was confirmed on Thursday after speculation had been rife towards the end of the season that he could instead be moving to the northern province.

Carbery had been photographed meeting with Schmidt in April as the 22 year-old mulled over his immediate future. But as time passed, talk of Munster interest surfaced and it is that factor, in the end, that gazumped any prospect of Ulster landing the Irish international even on a short-term deal.

"The initial meeting, with Leo (Cullen - Leinster coach), myself and David Nucifora, was not the best timing for any of us," Schmidt explained.

"It certainly wasn't where I wanted to be at the time but I had a job to do and all we asked was could we ask if there was any interest for Joey or for Ross to go up to Ulster. Because Ulster were looking at the time at a foreign option, they needed to know by midday the following day and so we had to see if there was any chance at all that one of our local number 10s were interested. If there was no interest, then it was a different story but there was a bit of interest from Joey at the time.

"Then he mulled that over and I think he got an approach from Munster in the interim and it kind of digressed then into a different conversation. The initial question I posed to Joey was 'have you any interest in going up to Ulster?' The Munster equation came later.

"The decision was a little bit of a surprise to me. I honestly wasn't sure what he was going to do. I thought he was quite possibly going to stay put. I haven't had that much time to think about it - I've had a few more things on my plate," he laughed ahead of Ireland's tour to Australia.

Ulster are now left with the relatively inexperienced Johnny McPhillips as their first choice outhalf. Could there be a knock-on effect with Munster's JJ Hanrahan, for example, moving for more starts?

"The guys up in Ulster and David Nucifora will put their heads together and see whether there will be any domino effect or whether somebody will come in from outside and help Johnny McPhillips, who had a really strong end to the year," said Schmidt.

"Five games, they had four wins and one draw. To not have Rory Best, Iain Henderson, lose Charles Piutau before kick-off, lose Louis Ludik really early in the game, got 7-0 down early on and win with a margin to spare against a team with the quality of the Ospreys, it does augur reasonably well. Ulster are far beyond some of the descriptions that have been thrown their way."

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