Paddy Jackson agrees deal to join English club, with Stuart Olding expected to follow
Former Ulster pair handed route back into rugby by Premiership club
Paddy Jackson has agreed a cut-price deal to join Sale Sharks and he looks set to be joined by his former Ulster colleague Stuart Olding at the Premiership club.
The pair had their IRFU contracts revoked last month after a union review found that their conduct had fallen below the standards expected of them.
They were both acquitted of rape charges after a high-profile, nine-week trial in March, but the public and sponsor reaction to what Jackson described as "degrading and offensive" WhatsApp messages regarding the complainant which appeared in evidence led to their departure from their province.
The pair are expected to join the club on reduced salaries.
An Ireland international with 25 caps, Jackson (26) was on more than £250,000 (€284,000) a year at Ulster but is set to earn less than £200,000 (€227,000) at Sale, while Olding (25) is set for a similar percentage pay-cut.
After Clermont Auvergne and Exeter Chiefs were quick to distance themselves from the pair after being linked with moves, Sale are not expected to publicly announce the transfer until their season comes to an end in a bid to limit the fall-out from their decision to hand the pair a route back to professional rugby.
They did not publicly comment last night, but director of rugby Steve Diamond is of the opinion that their innocence in the court of law, rather than public opinion, is all that matters.
He previously stuck his neck on the line to defend England winger Denny Solomona who was found guilty of directing homophobic abuse towards Jamie Shillcock, the Worcester Warriors fly-half.
Indeed Diamond specialises in rehabilitating players considered toxic by other clubs. He signed Danny Cipriani in 2012 when the player's reputation was at all-time low following a controversial spell with the Melbourne Rebels.
The move is likely to attract controversy to the Manchester club's door given the strength of public feeling about the trial.
The players will hope the move offers them a fresh start after a ruinous episode that has cost them a year of their careers, been damaging to their finances, and cost them their Ireland futures. (© Daily Telegraph, London)