Sunday 23 October 2016

Jacko to lead in Wales test

Kiss warns fringe not to hijack their own World Cup chances

Paddy Jackson
Paddy Jackson

Soon to be Ulster head coach Les Kiss has a simple message for Ireland out-half Paddy Jackson ahead of Ireland's opening World Cup warm-up match against Wales in Cardiff today.

"You can hijack yourself before you know it," he said.

The men in green have been forewarned that the self-interested trail to personal glory is a fruitless one today and every day under the eyes of Kiss & Co.

Twenty-three year-old Jackson motored past Munster's Ian Keatley in Joe Schmidt's rankings by the end of last season.

He has done well enough in pre-season to merit a first cap in nearly a year-and-a-half with the eager Ian Madigan clicking his heels on the bench.

"Paddy had an injury-fractured year last season, if you want to call it that, but he came back at the back-end of the year and really delivered some nice rugby," said Kiss. "He played flat at the line, picked his options well. His passing game was good.

"He squared up the line, took the line on a few times.

"I think from that perspective there were some nice touches and, obviously, the area he's really working on a lot more is his kicking game.

"When you go up a level in this game, you've got to make the most of all the different spaces on the pitch." The ex-Methodist College playmaker aims to sharpen his goal-kicking and his decision-making.

"It's not only in front of you. Sometimes it's in the corners or in the air," added Kiss.

"So we're just looking for a good balanced performance from him in terms of stepping up to the plate from where he finished the year."

What goes for one, goes for all.

The probability is seven men will be told their services are no longer required next week, shaving the squad down to 39.

There are a host of candidates who know they have the power of control over what they have to do.

"We visited here earlier in the year in the Six Nations. We didn't get the result we wanted," said Kiss about playing in Cardiff.

"I'm pretty sure they will be committed to making sure we go away without the result we'd wish this time as well.

"So for each individual it's the challenge to make sure they can keep their focus to where it is this Test match. Minute by minute, let's deliver - and see what happens from there."

Wales: H Amos; A Cuthbert, T Morgan, S Williams (capt), E Walker; J Hook, M Phillips; N Smith, R Hibbard, A Jarvis, J Ball, D Day, R Moriarty, J Tipuric, D Baker.

Ireland: F Jones; A Trimble, K Earls, D Cave, F McFadden; P Jackson, E Reddan; J McGrath, R Strauss, M Ross, I Henderson, D Ryan, J Murphy, T O'Donnell, J Heaslip (capt).

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