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Friday 21 September 2018

Jackson did it all on own – Best

Rory Best
Rory Best

Luck can be a beautiful thing or your greatest nightmare. Just look at Ian Madigan.

He moved into second place behind Jonathan Sexton in the Ireland out-half pecking order, with two commanding performances against USA and Canada in the summer.

Then he gets gazumped by Jimmy Gopperth back at Leinster while at the same time Paddy Jackson steadily finds his feet and his form for Ulster.

When Sexton's hip flexor stiffens up, it is Jackson who steps into the breach, while Madigan clicks his heels on the bench.

Ireland's Rory Best (inset) knows Jackson, what he has had to suffer in a short space of time, how he has coped and why he has matured.

"We have a lot of faith and a lot of confidence in him as a high quality rugby player," said the hooker.

KICKING ACCURACY

Best sees the examination of Jackson's kicking accuracy as "a bit of a sideshow" compared to how the former Methodist College half-back has grown his game in the Heineken Cup.

"What's really impressed us is his game management, especially away in Montpellier, Leicester at home when we were up against it a wee bit, he got us field position. He got us grass. He got the ball off the pitch."

The quiet, reserved schoolboy with the choir boy looks has learned how to direct the players around him: "He is telling a fairly experienced forward pack in Ulster where to go, what to do."

"He's done it fairly tough. He's really come straight from school to being our number one ten. He hasn't had anyone of real note to learn from at Ulster.

"He has had to do it his own way through making mistakes. The way he's come back this season speaks volumes for how much he wants it."

Jackson is going to have to kick his points to put Ireland in the right position to win, or else, the scene will be set for a late Madigan cameo.

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