Mike Catt hoping Joey Carbery shows ‘his point of difference’ against Argentina
Joey Carbery has been backed to steer Ireland’s ship and bring his “X-factor” against Argentina as he attempts to step out of Johnny Sexton’s shadow.
Munster fly-half Carbery will make only a ninth start for his country when Los Pumas visit Dublin on Sunday after influential captain Sexton was ruled out by ankle and knee issues.
The 26-year-old, who made a match-winning cameo in last weekend’s 29-20 win over New Zealand, is seeking to rediscover top form following a nightmare spell with injuries.
Ireland assistant boss Mike Catt believes the two number 10s are different characters and urged Carbery to be his own man on a rare chance to play Test rugby from the off.
“I never worked with him when he had his best so I’m still learning about Joey myself,” said Catt.
“But over the summer and the past three or four weeks we’ve had together, him and Harry (Byrne) and Johnny have been exceptional in how they’ve progressed, in how they’ve helped each other and how they’re competing against each other for those spots. It’s a very, very healthy environment for that to happen.
“For me, Joey just needs to direct the ship and make sure he does what’s right for the team.
“He’s well capable of doing that and then to show his point of difference. He’s hopefully going to get a few opportunities tomorrow to really do what he’s good at and go out and enjoy himself.
“Rugby’s about decision-making and that’s all they have to do, just make the right decisions and then bring their X-factor on top of that.
“Joey, he’s very good and it’s just making sure we get the right platform for him to be able to show his point of difference. I think that’s crucial for us.”
Head coach Andy Farrell has made four changes to the team which began against the All Blacks.
Carbery will be partnered by Munster team-mate Conor Murray following injuries to Leinster duo Sexton and Jamison Gibson-Park, while centre Robbie Henshaw and rookie wing Robert Baloucoune have also been recalled.
While coach Catt concedes that Carbery lacks authority in comparison to the 101-time capped Sexton, he feels that deficit can be made up by team-mates.
Rugby’s about decision-making and that’s all they have to do, just make the right decisions and then bring their X-factor on top of thatMike Catt
“Where Johnny’s leadership comes through, maybe Joey doesn’t have that just yet,” said the 50-year-old former England international.
“But other people bring that, so it’s just making sure that you bring what you are good at and we will grow the other aspects that need to be grown as a 10.
“If everybody is helping you and everybody else is doing their job and leading in their own way, then it’s very easy to do.
“They (Sexton and Carbery) are very different characters but you need that in a team. That’s what makes you a good team.”
Murray and Henshaw will make their first Test starts since being among Ireland’s seven-man Lions contingent in the summer.
Catt, a two-time Lions tourist, believes players gaining experience with Warren Gatland’s side is hugely beneficial for the entire squad.
“The likes of Bundee (Aki), Robbie Henshaw and Conor Murray have shared their experiences with the younger guys who haven’t been there and it makes a big difference,” said the 2003 World Cup winner.
“They were very confident when they came back. Those experiences are always pretty special and shared within the group, which is great.
“It’s just the next progression in your career and you build on it and you can use it as a huge stepping stone to make sure you cement yourself in the next set of internationals for your country because you want to come back and play in those Lions tours again.”