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Trimble backs wiser Jackson


Ireland's Andrew Trimble

Ireland's Andrew Trimble

Ireland's Andrew Trimble

Andrew Trimble holds the view Paddy Jackson is on his way to becoming a serious rival to Jonathan Sexton

"From a provincial point of view, Paddy is probably our most important player," said the Ulsterman.

"When he plays, we generally play well. He's a guy who has just matured so much in the last few years.

"I know the temptation is, in a press conference like this, that if you're asked about someone then, generally, it's to talk him up.

"But, I genuinely feel with Paddy that he's very, very important to us and we're very lucky to have him.

"He cracks the whip. He's a leader. He makes sure standards are maintained.

"You don't have to look further than Johnny to see someone who Jacky's on his way to becoming, in my opinion anyway."

The former Methodist College prodigy shared Ireland U18 Schools time with JJ Hanrahan at inside centre. It wasn't too long before he was cutting his teeth for the Ireland Under-20s.

Identified as one for the future, Ulster coach Brian McLaughlin picked Jackson as one for the present when he started the 2012 Heineken Cup final at Twickenham as a 20 year-old.

"When he came in at the start, he was wet between the ears. He was a youngster and he's just become a leader," said Trimble.


On mature reflection, Jackson was given a chance he was not ready to take. The harsh lesson from being thrown in has been used to build his game.

He was not discarded because those in command could see the talent.

They just had to nurture it and it would bloom.

The quick change of regimes from McLaughlin to Mark Anscombe to Neil Doak and on to Les Kiss along with the leaving of Director of Rugby David Humphreys have been unsettling.

"I think he's had one or two potential setbacks along the way but, there's probably a number of young numbers 10s coming through who wouldn't be anywhere near as resilient as Paddy is," said Trimble.

"I think what he's had to deal with, in being thrown in there a couple of times when things aren't going well and taking a hard time, he has shown massive maturity."

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has taken the view to back up Sexton with Ian Madigan in the World Cup and the Six Nations.

This is rooted in the pragmatic stance that Madigan is a better place-kicker than Jackson and covers for more problems.

Schmidt has given Trimble an international lifeline while keeping the selection line to Jackson mostly closed. The recent incoming criticism of Schmidt has not seeped through to Camp Ireland.

The message is as clear and as detailed as it has always been.

"He's been pretty consistent now," said the winger.

"The player group is generally a reflection on where Joe is and Joe is very confident of what we can produce on the pitch and knows how close we are to producing results.

"I think he knows this approach works. We're very close to clicking and when we do, hopefully the players and coaches will be vindicated."