Wednesday 20 June 2018

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Performance in South Africa a distant memory for Jackson

Paddy Jackson has signed for newly-promoted Top 14 side Perpignan. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Paddy Jackson has signed for newly-promoted Top 14 side Perpignan. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
David Kelly

David Kelly

Two years ago today, Paddy Jackson delivered a statement performance in a green shirt as Ireland produced an historic first Test win on South African soil.

Injury to first-choice Johnny Sexton had pre-empted the decision of Joe Schmidt, swayed also perhaps by the fact that the other touring No 10, Ian Madigan, would soon be absenting himself from the domestic game by signing for Bordeaux-Begles.

Jackson's stellar display justified the coach's decision and, although Ireland would lose the series 2-1, it seemed the Ulster man would succeed Madigan as the back-up fly-half for the 2019 World Cup.

As we now know, the return of Jackson and Stuart Olding from that tour set in chain a series of events that would ensure they would never play for their country again.

Also yesterday, Ulster CEO Shane Logan announced he was stepping down despite previously saying that "my position is not at risk" after denying he had become an "invisible man" as a result of his own handling of the controversial fallout.

Intention

All the while, both players had declared their intention to resume their careers but the decision by their employers in this country would mean they would have to pursue them in another.

Initial obstacles demonstrated the difficulties that would have been encountered, notably when English side Sale were assailed by objections from sponsors and a local MP when rumours of a potential move to Manchester became public knowledge.

Initial interest from Clermont Auvergne was also repelled, albeit mainly because that club were already well-stocked, before late last month Olding secured a contract with French second-tier side Brive.

Jackson was inevitably linked with a move there too or, alternatively, Waikato in New Zealand, now led by former Ulster coach Jono Gibbes, before newly-promoted Top 14 side Perpignan confirmed the 25-year-old's signing.

The Catalan club spent four years in the second tier before winning promotion last month and, by thus qualifying for the Challenge Cup, they may possibly meet Connacht in that competition when the draw is made on Wednesday week.

Irish Independent

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