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Ulster pair Paddy Jackson and Stuart McCloskey miss Ireland's call

By Jonathan Bradley

Paddy Jackson's Ireland loss may be Ulster's gain in tonight's Guinness Pro12 League clash with Newport Gwent Dragons at Kingspan stadum (7.35pm).

But double disappointment is looming for Ulster's Ireland hopefuls this afternoon when coach Joe Schmidt announces his team to face Wales in Sunday's Six Nations opener at the Aviva (3.00pm).

Jackson's sparkling form for his province this season has not been rewarded with the role of Johnny Sexton's back-up for the Welsh clash and Ian Madigan's extra versatility will see the Leinster man selected on the bench.

Jackson will instead be among the Ulster replacements when they take on the Dragons at Kingspan this evening.

Another of Les Kiss's on song Ulster backline, Stuart McCloskey, is set to be left out of the Ireland line-up even if Rob Kearney is not passed fit to start.

The clamour to give the Bangor native a first international cap has been growing in recent weeks after his bulldozing displays at Kingspan caught the eye.

A muscle injury for Kearney, with a six-day turnaround to the next game in France, means the Leinster full-back is unlikely to be risked but his absence is not thought to pave the way for a McCloskey debut.

RUGBY ON SIX PAGES: 58-63

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