Belfast Telegraph

Paddy Jackson's dream debut proves potential

Fly-half Paddy Jackson is the latest player to roll off a Ravenhill conveyor belt which also has delivered exciting youngsters like Nevin Spence, 20 and Craig Gilroy, who is just 19.

With a number of key players missing due to Ireland duty, both Spence and Gilroy started and played key roles against Scarlets on Friday night — when Jackson was thrust into the fray.

Speaking prior to that Magners League clash in Llanelli, McLaughlin expressed total confidence in the 19-year-old debutant’s ability to cope after finding himself pitched in at outside-half when Ian Humphreys’ shoulder injury ruled him out.

“He’s a smashing rugby player. I’ve watched him quite a few times this season,” said McLaughlin.

“I watched him at the opening of the Aviva Stadium and he had a smashing game there and I’ve watched him quite a few times down at Dungannon.

“He has been training with us regularly and he’s a smashing talent.

“We thought long and hard about putting him in against Scarlets. He’s got the experience of Ruan Pienaar inside and Paddy Wallace outside so you couldn’t ask for two better people to put him in between.

“I have no worries about him at all. He’s a great guy for the future, so let’s find out about him and see what he can do.

Afterwards the Ulster coach enthused: “Paddy has had a very good debut for one so young.

“It was a tough night for him; conditions were appaling, but he coped really well.

“He’s one for the future, definitely.

“And there are others. We’d Craig Gilroy and Nevin Spence on duty, too, so we’re in a good place in terms of what we’re bringing through.”

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