Ahead of Ireland hosting Italy on Sunday in Round 3 the 2022 Six Nations Championship, we look at talking points including: Joey Carbery starting again at No 10, debutant Mike Lowry’s big chance from full-back and Italian desperation for a victory
Last Updated: 25/02/22 6:47pm
We look at some key talking points ahead of Ireland vs Italy in the Six Nations on Sunday, including Joey Carbery starting again at No 10, Mike Lowry’s big chance and Italian desperation…
Carbery Ireland’s playmaking future?
Ireland captain Johnny Sexton accepts it “makes sense” for Joey Carbery to retain Ireland’s fly-half role for Sunday’s clash with Italy, according to head coach Andy Farrell.
Veteran Sexton was pushing for an international recall after overcoming the minor hamstring issue which kept him out of his country’s 30-24 Six Nations defeat in France.
But the 36-year-old has to be content with a place on the bench, with Farrell eager to give Munster’s Carbery another chance to build on his solid performance in Paris.
“Back-to-back Test matches is a great experience for anybody really, especially somebody in a pivotal position like fly-half,” said Farrell.
“Joey handled the occasion very well last week. He stepped in very late in regard that Johnny got injured on the last full training day of the week and he obviously didn’t get the full week to prepare to run the side.
“He gets that opportunity this week on the back of a good performance.
“After analysing the performance, Joey would admit to you himself that he would love the opportunity to put a few things right and add to that performance and add to his experience at this level.
“It just makes sense and the person that agrees with that is Johnny. He’s the captain of the side, he wants what’s right for the team.”
Sexton has made just one substitute appearance for Ireland in the past 10 years – coming on for Carbery in the opening Test of the 2018 tour of Australia.
Mike Lowry’s big chance from full-back
Farrell has opted for six personnel changes to his starting XV – two of which are enforced – following the loss at Stade de France as the Irish attempt to get their championship title challenge back on track.
James Lowe, Robbie Henshaw, Dan Sheehan, Ryan Baird and Peter O’Mahony all come in, while there is an international debut for Ulster full-back Michael Lowry.
Fleet-footed Lowry trained with Ireland last summer and has starred for his province in the United Rugby Championship and Heineken Champions Cup.
“Regarding Michael Lowry, we’re all excited to see him get his chance,” said Farrell. “He deserves it.
“He’s shown – not just the coaching staff, but the rest of his peers – that he’s ready to play.
“He’s comfortable in his own skin.
“He’s able to be himself under extreme pressure and it’s tough for someone to come into camp, especially when you’ve not got a cap or you are new to the group, to understand how we play, to pick up the new calls, to learn all the intricacies within the group, within the back three.
“And he’s unbelievably thorough in his preparation. We believe he’s ready.”
Italian desperation for victory
The Azzurri head to Dublin off the back of an extraordinary 34 straight Six Nations defeats dating back to February 28, 2015, and are in dire need of a win.
Each year Italy go without one, the same questions and opinions pop up regarding them being removed and or replaced from the championship by thousands of watching fans, as well as from a number of high-profile pundits.
In Round 1 they showed qualities vs France in rain-sodden conditions, but Round 2 saw them lose 33-0 to England at home in Rome.
Italy have only beaten Ireland once in 21 years of Six Nations meetings (2013) and have never tasted success in Dublin.
Added to that, Ireland have been one of the form sides in world rugby over the last 12 months, convincingly beating England, New Zealand, Argentina and Wales, while they gave France a real game in Paris in Round 2 before falling to a 30-24 loss.
The task facing Italy is huge, but their desperation for a victory is enormous and they need a win anywhere they can get it.