Saturday 16 December 2017

Jackson comes out of drawn-out process with £400,000 deal

Paddy Jackson: Staying at Ulster Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Paddy Jackson: Staying at Ulster Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Paddy Jackson has committed to Ulster until 2019 on a salary believed to be in the region of £400,000 per season at the end of what director of rugby Les Kiss described as a drawn-out process.

Facing competition from abroad, the Australian was delighted to secure his No 10's future.

"Paddy's form over the past few years has been widely acknowledged and it was no surprise that there was a lot of interest in him from other big European clubs," Kiss said.

"It was far from a straightforward process but Bryn (Cunningham) has done a marvellous job in negotiating the terms of the contract and I'm really pleased with the solution that we have in place."

Straightforward or not, in the end, the province got their leading man. With Ruan Pienaar departing at the end of the season, anything else would have been a disaster.

Ulster are among the bigger spenders in Irish rugby and it is no surprise that an out-half of Jackson's age and ability would command a salary of that nature.

On the international market, the pay-scale for No 10s is different to other positions, and the Belfast native was in demand.

With all the backroom changes happening at the Kingspan Stadium this summer, the retention of Jackson represents some continuity.

A home-grown hero whose international status is growing, a departure always seemed unlikely, but with Northampton among the clubs dangling lucrative deals in his direction, the temptation was there.

Of course, Jackson could have looked at his erstwhile international rivals Ian Madigan and JJ Hanrahan to recognise that the grass isn't always greener.

"He is the type of player that we can build the team around and it's important that we have home-grown talent at the forefront of what we're trying to achieve here. His ability and leadership will be critical for us," Kiss added.

At 25, Jackson is now the second-choice Ireland out-half and the timing would indicate that he is in line to take over Johnny Sexton's national contract in 2019.

The past year has seen him start more international games than he had previously and while Sexton remains the No 1, it is clear that Joe Schmidt now has more confidence in Jackson's abilities after almost four years working together.

According to goalkickers.co.za, Jackson has the best kicking record in the Six Nations so far despite losing his place for the France match, and while the No 10 shirt is likely to remain in the Leinster man's possession, he still has a big role to play.

Meanwhile, Isa Nacewa will continue his career with Leinster next season.

The province's captain retired from the game in 2013, but returned to Leinster before last season and has been a leading light in their backline since resuming his career.

Although he is not Irish-qualified, he is seen as a positive influence on the large cadre of youngsters coming through the ranks under Leo Cullen and yesterday confirmed that he will play on for at least another season.

"I'm back here at Leinster next season, continuing on here," the 34-year-old told RTÉ.

Despite spending some time out of action after undergoing an operation on his knee recently, Nacewa is hoping to play against the Scarlets on Saturday.

"It was really simple and really minor," he said. "I was in early morning and out before lunchtime, it was just a little clean-up that had just been aggravating me for a while, no issues whatsoever so pretty much good to go.

"I'm already back running so with two weekends off, timing couldn't have been better for me so I'll be flying in no time."

Irish Independent

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