Leinster legend weighs in on the unenviable choice facing Leo Cullen

Leinster legend Brian O’Driscoll believes the Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt will be frustrated with the limited game time afforded to Joey Carbery at out-half.

Reports emerged over the weekend that the IRFU had told Leinster that one of their out-half’s would be dispatched to Ulster following the axing of Paddy Jackson.

The IRFU performance director David Nucifora is said to have visited the Blue’s UCD HQ last week to relay their decision to Leo Cullen, who has been told to decide which player will stay and which player will make the move to Belfast as Leinster look set to lose either Joey Carbery or Ross Byrne.

Ulster are currently 4th in their conference having been dumped out of the Champions Cup at the pool stage, Les Kiss paid the price for their failure as he exited the province shortly after that. In his first two seasons in charge, Ulster reached the semi-finals of the Pro 14 but failed to make the playoffs last year.

The stink of the much publicised trial lingered long after the verdict as concerns about the culture at the club and the attitude of some of their players toward women came into question. The result of an IRFU and Ulster review led to the revoking of the contracts of Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding while Craig Gilroy was suspended.

O’Driscoll was a guest on OTB AM on Monday morning, he told Ger Gilroy that the situation in not ideal:

“It’s a tricky one for them because potentially Carbery or Byrne could leave a winning culture, you look at Jordi Murphy – it can’t be easy playing some of the best rugby of his life both from a Leinster perspective but also from Jordi’s perspective.

“Things are clearly not going right for Ulster, they don’t have a coach and are a little bit of a basket case at the moment, he’s going up there to try and play his rugby from next year on.

“When the decision was made 6 months ago he was 4th in the pecking order, he didn’t know Josh van der Flier was going to get injured and Sean O’Brien and he didn’t know he’d get as much game time as he has done.

“Likewise with a Carbery or I think it’ll be more likely that it’s Ross Byrne who’ll want to go and get more game time - that is if Carbery is used a bit more often at 10.

“Joe Schmidt has to be pulling his hair out that Carbery has only had one outing for Leinster starting in the number 10 jersey and he’s his back up number 10, that’s not ideal.

“Someone is going to move and probably quite soon just to get game time because you can’t have three quality operators at 10.

O’Driscoll doesn’t think the players would be enthused by the prospect of leaving province and admits that if the roles were reverse he would refuse to make the move:

“It’s a tough one, I would too (refuse to move) because there’s a good chance you’re going to be winning medals or going to be in the hunt to win medals, at the moment Ulster are awhile away from that.

“Not knowing what’s going to happen at Ulster, who is coming in, am I going to improve as a player, whatever about playing more often what skills am I being thought on week to week basis. I wouldn’t be in a rush at the moment, certainly that wouldn’t be my first port of call.

“Maybe they will be encouraged, maybe the IRFU or Joe Schmidt will put an arm around the shoulder and have a quiet word and say ‘if you have aspirations to be involved in the longer term you need to go and look at playing regular football’”.