All eyes will be on Leinster’s number 10 at the RDS this evening as Joey Carbery makes a first start for the province since injuring an ankle in the Champions Cup defeat away to Northampton Saints last December.
Carbery catapulted himself into the public’s imagination during the first half of the season when deputising for the injured Jonathan Sexton with his club before featuring for Ireland in the historic defeat of New Zealand and again against Australia.
Paddy Jackson has proven to be a more than able out-half in the green jersey stretching back to South Africa last summer but, with Sexton’s fitness or otherwise still in the realms of the unknown and cover beyond that thin, Carbery’s return to action is to be warmly welcomed.
Whether or not he is ready to be ushered back into national camp by Joe Schmidt anytime soon is another question.
“We will see,” said Leinster coach Leo Cullen ahead of tonight’s outing. “Joey came on at 15 last weekend against Treviso, moved at one stage to 12. Ross (Byrne) did really, really well at 10. Again with a short turnaround, three games in 12 days, we’re trying to manage the group as well.
“Joey, it’s his first game at 10 in quite a while, since, what, Northampton away, where he lasted 15 minutes? We’ll see how he goes in the first-half and we’ll make constant assessments after that.”
Carbery isn’t the only man featuring here who will be watched through the prism of the Six Nations.
Dave Kearney, like Carbery, made a try-scoring return from injury in Italy last week. He has always been a Schmidt favourite and there is further such interest up front.
Josh van der Flier has had to bide his time on the Irish bench for most of the Six Nations so far and will be keen to make a point.
So will Jack Conan and James Tracy, two others closer to thereabouts than there in the Irish scheme of things.
Edinburgh welcome back a 10 of their own in Duncan Weir who is on release from the Scottish camp but this has another Leinster win written all over it.
“We’re back on the road and know Leinster are a tough team to overcome, especially on their home patch,” said Edinburgh acting head coach Duncan Hodge.
“As a squad, we’ve learned a lot from last week’s match against Ulster [the 24-18 defeat] and will look to take the positives from an encouraging second-half display into this week’s game. The players showed a lot of character and resolve last week in overcoming the challenges of what was a high-tempo and physical encounter. Those involved tomorrow night will need to show a similar tenacity and perform for the full 80 minutes if we’re to challenge the home side.”
Z Kirchner; D Kearney, R O’Loughlin, N Reid, B Daly; J Carbery, L McGrath; P Dooley, J Tracy, M Ross; R Molony, M McCarthy; D Ryan, J van der Flier, J Conan.
G Bryce; D Hoyland, C Dean, P Burleigh, T Brown; D Weir, S Hidalgo-Clyne; J Cosgrove, N Cochrane, M McCallum; F McKenzie, B Toolis; M Bradbury, J Ritchie, C Du Preez.
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