All Blacks v Ireland: NZ-born Joey Carbery may be surprise selection over fit-again Johnny Sexton

Veteran first-five Johnny Sexton looks more and more likely to be included in Ireland's team for the second test against the All Blacks, after suffering a head injury in the series-opener.

But former Irish flanker Alan Quinlan believes NZ-born Joey Carbery may get the nod, regardless of the veteran's availability.

Carbery was one of the few bright spots in their first-test defeat at Eden Park, after he replaced Sexton just 30 minutes into the fixture.

Sexton passed his second HIA (head injury assessment) after the game and just needs to pass a third test to be available on Saturday.

Ireland have come under criticism for their seemingly over-reliance on Sexton and with the Rugby World Cup just 18 months away, fans and pundits alike are concerned.

Should he go down again, there are no obvious incumbents, with Carbery, twice-capped Harry Byrne and uncapped Ciarán Frawley the only other real options named in their squad for their New Zealand tour.

Quinlan understands the fears over their depth at the position, but isn't sure the former Dargaville resident is ready to fill Sexton's large boots.

Sexton was forced from the field with a head injury in the first test.
Sexton was forced from the field with a head injury in the first test. Photo credit: Getty Images

"I think he was going to start the test anyway, Carbery," Quinlan told Off The Ball. "I think that was the whole idea, so he could start anyway at the weekend and maybe it's a case of playing Sexton next week.

"You make a valid point with the World Cup next year and the flyhalves behind that having enough game time.

"I think Joey Carberry did really well the other night, but if Johnny Sexton is fit this weekend, would I start him? I just think his mental strength, his resilience, and power and presence he has, I probably would.

"People would probably disagree and say 'we need to get Joey Carberry on the field', but I don't know. I think the third test is the one I'd start Carberry.

"It's not the playing ability, because I think Joey Carberry has taken strides in the last few months. It's just the presence that I think they need to learn a little bit off Sexton... get a bit narky like him, be more vocal. 

"You want your flyhalf to be really vocal and Joey Carberry seems a little bit quiet. He needs to start bossing people around the field and I'd love to see him do that."

Carbery is viewed as more of a running first-five than his predecessor and has been compared to All Blacks star Beauden Barret for his attacking ability. 

But like Barrett, there's been plenty of debate over which position he is best suited to, after playing plenty of his rugby at fullback.

The 26-year-old has been a revelation at Munster, since his move from Leinster, and has an impressive win-rate for Ireland against New Zealand, South Africa and Australia during his 33-capped career.

Ireland rugby legend Ronan O'Gara isn't sure Carbery is the answer for the No.10 jersey either.

"He's a brilliant rugby player," he told Sky Sports. "Is he a brilliant 10? I don't know".

Join us at 7pm Saturday for live updates of the second All Blacks v Ireland test