Belfast Telegraph

Jackson: I was gutted by Ireland Six Nations axe

By Jonathan Bradley

A "gutted" Paddy Jackson has spoken for the first time about his latest Ireland omission and his determinationd to force his way into Joe Schmidt's plans sooner rather than later.

The fly-half has been in great form for Ulster this season since returning from the World Cup, where he disappointingly played only 20 minutes of the tournament, but has once again found himself outside of Schmidt's match-day squad for the Six Nations with Leinster's Ian Madigan preferred on the bench as back-up for kicker Jonny Sexton for the opening two rounds.

Despite the setback, Jackson is out to show what he can do for Ulster in the coming weeks, starting against Scarlets on Sunday, as he looks to give the selectors no choice but to include him.

"It's been very frustrating," he admitted. "I thought I'd possibly done enough to get into that match-day squad but it wasn't to be.

"It felt like the World Cup all over again. I felt like I was back in that same position.

"Initially I was gutted and really frustrated but then I kind of shook it off and decided I had to keep my head down.

"All I can affect now is how I play at Ulster and that's what I'm going to focus on."

Jackson insists he will not allow the Ireland blow to knock him out of his stride at Kingspan Stadium, where he is one of Les Kiss's most important players.

"I just keep telling myself I've worked really hard since the World Cup to get to where I am now so I'm not going to let this stop me," he said.

"I'm going to keep pushing ahead and keep working as hard as I can."

Ireland look to get their stuttering campaign back on track against England at Twickenham next Saturday after securing Ulster's New Zealand centre Jared Payne on a two year Irish contract, which will keep him at Kingspan until June 2018.

Belfast Telegraph


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