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Ireland out-half dilemma splits fans

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Carbery injury leaves fans worried as Ireland's fringe out-halves have six caps between them

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt will have a lot of thinking to do over the next couple of weeks regarding his fly-half options going into the World Cup. 

A month ago it seemed quite an easy picture for Ireland – Jonathan Sexton to start, with Joey Carbery on the bench. But an ankle injury to Carbery during the warm-up match against Italy on August 10 has now thrown the selection into turmoil. 

While it is believed the Munster fly-half may be able to recover in time for the opening weekend of World Cup, assistant coach Richie Murphy has given no guarantees from Ireland’s warm-weather camp base in Portugal that he will be picked considering those that are waiting behind him. 

Murphy also revealed that Ireland will seek to take five half-backs to Japan. Now that opens up a lot of questions, particularly regarding whether three or two fly-halves will be taken, and whether Carbery will be part of that group. 

The main debate that will be raging will for now is who will be the back-up 10 in Carbery’s absence. 

Connacht’s Jack Carty and Leinster’s Ross Byrne are both in the squad and what the preference should be is a debate that few people in Ireland can agree upon.

Fans on social media seem to be split too. There are compelling arguments for both players, but a lot will be expected of them at the World Cup as the coaching staff will seek to manage Sexton’s playing time. 

Carty was selected for the Six Nations bench after Carbery was injured against Scotland in the Six Nations. He was also the substitute fly-half against Italy in the recent warm-up Test and some fans feel it is time for him to step up for Ireland.

Equally, Byrne, who deputises for Sexton with Leinster, is a fan favourite amongst and he earned his first caps in November 2018. 

What does worry some fans is that the two players currently only have six caps – all as replacements – between them (Carty four and Byrne two) going into such a huge tournament. This is what has been said: 

With three Tests remaining before the global showcase starts – against England at Twickenham on Saturday where Byrne is expected to start, and home and away against Wales – expect both players to be tested as Schmidt searches for his back-up to Sexton. 

WATCH: The Rugby Pod question whether Johnny Sexton is still at the level to start for Ireland 

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Carbery injury leaves fans worried as Ireland's fringe out-halves have six caps between them