No extra pressure on Paddy Jackson, insists Declan Kidney
PADDY JACKSON has been urged to go out and enjoy the occasion of his first Ireland cap by Declan Kidney.
The Ireland coach will hand Jackson and his Ulster team-mate Luke Marshall their Ireland debuts against Scotland in Murrayfield.
And Kidney has urged the pair to soak up every minute of the game and relish the occasion.
"I talk a lot about them being themselves when they're out on the pitch and that's what I mean by it, that they just go out, do what they can do and enjoy themselves," said Kidney.
The Ireland coach doesn't believe there will be any undue pressure on the out-half because it is his debut and referenced his own experiences as an out-half during his school days, recalling how he recovered from a game-changing error to bounce back a stronger individual and player.
"It's the first thing you have to learn, out-halves get all the blame or all the glory – and you never deserve either.
"You're doing your job, that's how I see the role of the out-half.
"That's something that was given to me a long time ago and something that I've lived on ever since in terms of that position more than any other one.
"If Paddy just goes out and does his job, it will be up to the other 14 to do their jobs around him more than anything else. That is my wish for him, to just go out and back himself," added Kidney.
Team captain Jamie Heaslip expressed his confidence in the ability of Jackson and Marshall to make the step up on Sunday.
"I don't look at them as new caps. They played against Fiji and were in the camp for the November series as well," said Heaslip.
"I've complete faith in the lads coming in doing their job and doing it well and playing with that passion and emotion that they've shown in training."
Kidney has made five changes in all to the starting line-up.
As well as the two debutants, Tom Court is included at loosehead prop with Munster's Keith Earls and Donncha O'Callaghan also elevated to the starting line-up.
The coach has also included Leinster's Luke Fitzgerald in his match-day 23, which is a huge fillip for a player who has battled his way back from a career-threatening neck injury. Fitzgerald last featured in an Ireland senior team in 2011 when he played against France.
He is joined in the squad by Devin Toner and Ulster back-row forward Iain Henderson as the Ireland forces are shuffled to counteract the spate of injuries.
"There is an element of us looking at what best suits our needs from a squad perspective in the selection certainly," said Kidney.
The biggest selection call, the coach acknowledged, was at out-half, and he revealed that Ronan O'Gara took the news he wasn't starting well.
"How did Ronan take the decision? Like the man he is. He trained this morning as if it were his first training session," Kidney added.
Ireland are not without some worry going into the match, however, with Donnacha Ryan still recovering from a back spasm.
The lock trained fully yesterday and it is anticipated he will train tomorrow when Ireland conclude their preparations, but there is a minor concern over his well-being.