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We won't hit the panic button, insists Ulster's Paddy Jackson after Ireland loss to England

By Cian Tracey

Published 09/09/2015

All in hand: Paddy Jackson believes Ireland are ready to click despite two World Cup warm-up defeats in recent weeks
All in hand: Paddy Jackson believes Ireland are ready to click despite two World Cup warm-up defeats in recent weeks

It's been far from an ideal couple of weeks for Ireland's World Cup preparations but the feeling emanating from the camp is that everything is under control.

Paddy Jackson played only 16 minutes of the defeat to Wales and didn't feature at all in last weekend's loss at Twickenham. Watching on has been frustrating for the deputy out-half but he remains confident that Ireland are going into the World Cup in a good place.

Given Wales' luckless run of injuries, with Leigh Halfpenny and Rhys Webb both missing the tournament, Jackson maintains that Ireland have been "lucky compared to some of the other teams".

At an open training session at the RDS yesterday, the players were all smiles but one felt that behind the scenes, a few harsh words had been spoken since Saturday's underwhelming display.

Ireland's attack has yet to really ignite over the last four games but Jackson stressed that they haven't become a bad team overnight - despite dropping from second to sixth in the World rankings.

"I think so," Jackson said when asked if Ireland's attack was ready to click. "I don't think two defeats will tarnish our attacking threat.

"It was a poor start (on Saturday). We made a few mistakes, and we did a good bit of defensive work today. It's nothing to worry about too much, just a few things to tidy up.

"Ireland have been very successful over the last few years and we got to second in the world; now we have dropped a bit but I think we are in a good place going into the World Cup."

The players said throughout the pre-season that they hadn't been doing much work on Canada but with the shadow-boxing now over, preparations have been ramped up.

Canada were hammered 47-18 by Fiji last weekend, but Jackson isn't taking them for granted.

"We have looked over a good few of the Canada games and did a bit last night," he said.

"They have got some really strong runners, very physical and tenacious so in terms of defence and making your hits, it's going to be a key work-on for Canada.

"It's the first game of the World Cup so everyone is going to be so up for it, especially Canada.

"I don't think many of them will have played in front of such a big crowd and that is going to be a massive game for them. For us as well it's the World Cup, I don't think anyone is going to be underestimating anyone."

Tommy Bowe has set a lofty standard for himself in a green jersey but Saturday's substandard display has left doubts hanging over his place in the starting XV.

Jackson, however, knows what his Ulster team-mate is capable of and has no doubt that the winger will bounce back and hit the ground running at the World Cup.

"He was disappointed with the game last week," Jackson admitted.

"For me, he hasn't had too many bad games for Ireland and I haven't seen him play many for Ulster either. It's Tommy Bowe.

"He's a British and Irish Lion who has got a number of caps for Ireland. He will bounce back strong and he is experienced enough to deal with it.

"We're all pushing each other. There is a lot of competition. I want to go there and play as much as I can."

The Ireland squad will reconvene at Carton House one final time before departing for the World Cup.

In Jackson's own words, "it's been a long pre-season" but the squad have gelled well and are ready to get the tournament under way.

"The first session with 31 was a bit quieter. It was just because we have been so used to training in a big squad," said Jackson. "We picked up our kit and it has all become a bit more real, especially for guys like me who haven't gone before. It's very exciting."

Belfast Telegraph

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