Both players have staked serious claims to be a part of Joe Schmidt’s entourage heading to Japan in September, but should it be Leinster’s Ross Byrne or Connacht’s Jack Carty lining out in green in six weeks’ time?
One thing unquestionable about the duo is their strength of character, with Carty having recovered from an incredibly serious injury to become the driving force of Connacht’s recent resurgence. Byrne has believed in his own ability when a move elsewhere seemed likely and excelled in the absence of Jonny Sexton for Leinster, staking a permanent claim for the No 10 shirt.
Byrne’s kicking ability is undeniable, having collected some crucial scores at important moments for his side. He has taken opportunities when granted to him and performed competently, but Carty’s all-round game has been hugely impressive in recent months.
The Roscommon man’s try-scoring ability will be quite easy on the eye to Schmidt and his backroom team, plus there has been serious improvements in his goal-kicking, as he looks to be a player entering his peak at just the right time for Ireland, when injuries are mounting up and someone is needed to fill the void.
Byrne has played at latter stages of European competition and is well-suited to the top level of the game, never looking out of place, but what Carty brings is an array of skills that add unpredictability to the play and bring new dimensions to the attack.
Like Byrne, for Carty opportunities have not always been a given, but his performances in the Pro14 have helped Connacht secure a place in the Champions Cup next campaign, his superb try against Cardiff being the shining example of the ability and different approach he brings to any side he plays in.
Ross Byrne is seen by many as the better player, a man who plays intelligently and sticks to his strengths, winning big games only further enhancing his growing reputation. However, the argument I would make is this, the reason there is not as much hype surrounding Carty can perhaps be attributed to the fact, he has not been given the exposure his performances have been deserving of.
It is undeniable that Carty is the form ten in the country in recent months and given that he was chosen over Byrne for the Six Nations, his omission would be a mistake. Byrne is the preferred option for many, but Jack Carty is a rising star of Irish rugby, and if you give him the stage, there’s no doubt he’ll do the business.
Anyone with doubts, should give the clip above a watch. If I were the manager, it’s Jack Carty on the plane to Japan.