Friday 21 July 2017

'It was far from a straightforward process' - Paddy Jackson rejects move to England to sign new Ulster deal

Paddy Jackson Photo: Sportsfile
Paddy Jackson Photo: Sportsfile

Nick Purewal

Paddy Jackson has rejected a move to England's Aviva Premiership and signed a new two-year contract with Ulster.

The Ireland fly-half will remain at his home province until at least summer 2019, after spurning advances understood to have come from the likes of Northampton and Bristol.

The 25-year-old has become Ireland's main understudy to linchpin fly-half Johnny Sexton across a busy 12 months, frequently deputising for the injury-hit Leinster star.

Jackson has featured in all three of Ireland's RBS 6 Nations clashes so far this term, further indicating his growing influence in head coach Joe Schmidt's squad.

"To have Paddy commit to Ulster for a further two seasons is a huge boost," said Ulster rugby director Les Kiss.

"He progressed through the academy structures here and has grown into a fantastic player and leader, who commands the respect of the entire squad.

"He is the type of player that we can build the team around and it's important that we have home-grown talent at the forefront of what we're trying to achieve here. His ability and leadership will be critical for us in the future.

"Paddy's form over the past few years has been widely acknowledged and it was no surprise that there was a lot of interest in him from other big European clubs.

"It was far from a straightforward process but Bryn (Cunningham, operations director) has done a marvellous job in negotiating the terms of the contract and I'm really pleased with the solution that we have in place."

Jackson has seized on Ian Madigan's move to Bordeaux to push himself up Ireland's fly-half pecking order in the last year.

The 22-cap playmaker has established himself as Sexton's clear deputy with the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) prioritising selecting provincial players ahead of overseas-based stars.

Jackson's decision to stay on home ground will doubtless on some level have been swayed by Ireland's selection policy.

"I'm delighted to be staying on at Ulster Rugby for at least another two years; it is such a proud moment for myself and my family," said Jackson.

"Every time I pull on the Ulster jersey it is something that I don't want to take for granted and I hope to continue to grow as a player and contribute to this team in a positive way.

"I believe that the pillars for success are in place here at Ulster with a quality squad and management team.

"I am hugely excited by the challenges that lie ahead and I'd like to thank everyone who has helped me to this point in my career."

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