Friday 15 December 2017

Jackson out to make mark in head-to-head with O'Gara

David Kelly

David Kelly

Rookie Scottish out-half Ruaridh Jackson can't wait for his tussle with Irish veteran Ronan O'Gara after being given a licence to thrill by under-fire coach Andy Robinson.

Jackson was the main beneficiary of Robinson's radical reaction to the embarrassing 24-6 defeat to Wales at Murrayfield last time out, as he made eight changes in all, one positional, to the side that will seek to repeat last year's surprise win against Declan Kidney's men.

"He (O'Gara) has been there for years now and he's one of those 10s who's got great game management," said the 23-year-old Jackson, who will make his first Scottish start opposite a player boasting 106 international caps, two Heineken Cup wins and three Lions tours.

"His kicking game's second to none, maybe only Dan Parks could rival that. I've already played against him this year over in Munster and gave him quite a good game I felt, so hopefully I'm not going to be shy at going head-to-head with him."

Jackson first shot to prominence during a thrilling Heineken Cup pool stage double-header against Bath two seasons ago, but he had to wait until last November to debut for his country, sealing a victory against Samoa with a nerveless last-minute penalty conversion.

playmaker

The metronomic Chris Paterson is likely to goal-kick for Scotland this Sunday despite Robinson's assertions otherwise, but the former England coach is aware that playmaker Jackson, one of nine Glasgow starters, can enable the Scots to expand their game.

"With the rugby that he has had over the last couple of seasons he's been able to attack the gain-line, play really flat, he can run himself and has a good passing game," asserted Robinson.

"The challenge for him will be to execute this on the international stage. When he came off the bench against Samoa he did well and when he came off the bench against France he did well, but he now has the start, where he has to organise the whole team.

"I thought it was right to give Ruaridh his first start. If results had been different, then it might not have happened, but we've had the results, he's a young player and we're giving him an opportunity."

Jackson will hope last year's shock win in Croke Park can motivate his new team-mates, but admits a better start than those experienced against France and Wales is paramount.

"It helps the confidence that we've beaten this team, and beaten them away from home, but we know they'll be hurting.

"We'll be really targeting that first 10 or 20 minutes to establish a good game and get some points on the board early, and hopefully we'll take it from there."

Scotland (v Ireland) -- C Paterson; N Walker, N De Luca, S Lamont, M Evans; R Jackson, M Blair; J Beattie, J Barclay, K Brown; A Kellock, R Gray; M Low, R Ford, A Jacobsen. Replacements: S Lawson, G Cross, N Hines, R Vernon, R Lawson, D Parks, S Danielli.

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