Ulster Rugby's Paddy Jackson 'a genuine rival to Jonny Sexton'
Ulster ace paddy will kick on in 2014, says ward
Published 07/01/2014 | 01:30
Ulster's Paddy Jackson is being tipped to establish himself as a genuine international-class fly-half in the Six Nations' Championship, which kicks off on February 1.
And the man flying the flag for the Ulster protégé, who turned 22 on Sunday, is former Ireland and Lions star Tony Ward.
In today's Belfast Telegraph, the man who wore the number 10 shirt with such distinction between 1978 and 1987 hails Methodist College-honed Jackson as a player with all the gifts to be an outstanding outside-half.
"The more I see of Jackson, the more impressive he looks. I think it highly significant that when he plays well, then so too do Ulster," says Ward.
"He still needs to inject a little more conviction to his tactical kicking out of hand, but beyond that he is fast becoming the near-perfect link appropriate to the modern game.
"Right now, he has to be marginally ahead of (Leinster's) Ian Madigan in the race to fill the back-up slot to Jonny Sexton for the upcoming Six Nations.
"I will be astonished if Joe Schmidt doesn't view recent evidence the same way. Jackson is growing into the role of responsibility for Ulster that comes with wearing David Humphreys' old shirt."
Meanwhile, hopes are growing that Ulster hooker Rory Best will play some part in Friday night's Heineken Cup clash with Montpellier at Ravenhill.