Thursday 19 September 2019

'The past is the past' - former Ireland coach defends signing Paddy Jackson

Paddy Jackson in the London Irish strip. Photo: Getty
Paddy Jackson in the London Irish strip. Photo: Getty

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

Former Ireland rugby coach Declan Kidney is standing over his controversial decision to sign Paddy Jackson for London Irish.

Kidney recruited Jackson from Perpignan to London Irish this season in a move which led to criticism and lost sponsorship.

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Jackson and his former Ulster team-mate Stuart Olding were found not guilty of rape after a high-profile trial in 2018. Both players had their contracts terminated and moved to France.

Olding is still with Brive, but Jackson has moved to London Irish to link up with Kidney, who insists it was the right decision.

"Paddy Jackson is a very good player. There was obviously things that happened in the past, but we just look forward," he said yesterday.

"He has been here, training for two months really well. He's settled in.

"We respect the fact that everyone is entitled to their opinion, but the past is the past. Life moves on and he's done very well since he's arrived here. He's a good player and we're delighted to have him here for that reason."

London Irish are also set to welcome Seán O'Brien in the coming months. The Leinster star has been in the news for the wrong reasons after being sanctioned by the IRFU for an off-field incident in the wake of Leinster's Pro14 final win.

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"When you say it's a concern, everyone has to learn from their mistakes of the past, you know?" Kidney said when asked about the incident.

O'Brien's focus is on getting fit after he underwent hip surgery having been ruled out of the World Cup.

"There's a good bit of rehab to be done," said Kidney.

"It was a chronic injury. It had been increasing as time went on and you never know with these injuries if they're getting to a stage where something needs to be done. That happened soon after we signed him, so he went off and got it done - same as Andy Murray."

Jackson is expected to start when London Irish take on Munster in a friendly in Cork next week.

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