'This is Sean's chance' - Bernard Jackman on Cronin's 'last gasp' opportunity to reignite Ireland hopes
Bernard Jackman says the Sean Cronin vs Rory Best battle in the Champions Cup quarter-final could be the Leinster hooker's last chance to force his way back into Ireland's World Cup squad.
Leinster take on Ulster at the Aviva Stadium this Saturday, with the two hookers set to go head-to-head in an intriguing contest.
Best is the current incumbent in the Irish team, with Cronin cut from the squad after a disappointing start against Italy in the Six Nations.
The Leinster number two has been in scintillating form for his club this season, but Jackman says that he needs a big performance against Ulster to get back in the national picture.
"This is Sean's chance," Jackman said.
"They will be in the knockout stages of the Pro14, but a European quarter-final at home, against a guy [Best] who is keeping you out of the Irish team... You could argue it's Scannell keeping him out but if Sean has a big game this weekend, it's a last-gasp chance to get back into that summer squad.
"He needs to perform. He needs to have a big game."
Leinster beat Ulster comfortably in January but Jackman thinks that game is irrelevant ahead of this weekend's clash. However, he still thinks that the European champions will have too much for the northern province.
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"We can't judge Leinster and Ulster on what they were like in January," he added.
"It's very much on the day. Leinster have better players probably and more experience of these types of games - and they're at home - but I just think it's so hard to know.
"Ulster have had less guys involved with Ireland over the Six Nations, Dan [McFarland] has been able to prep for this game three or four weeks out, start to put things in place that he wanted to use against Leinster.
"Realistically for Leo [Cullen] and Stuart [Lancaster]... it's a race now to be ready, a race to get your A-game back. It's a potential banana skin for Leinster but it's very hard to see Ulster being good enough really."