Six Nations: Paddy Jackson faces Scotland with massive vote of confidence
Ireland's Six Nations hopes will rest on Paddy Jackson's shoulders come Saturday after Johnny Sexton was ruled out of the side's opener with Scotland in Edinburgh (2.25pm kick-off).
Head coach Joe Schmidt had expected Leinsterman Sexton to overcome a calf knock picked up in European action last month but the 31-year-old suffered a set-back in training on Monday afternoon.
It means that, back on the ground where he made his Ireland debut four years ago, Ulster's Jackson will be the man pulling the strings and looking to push on from his impressive performances against South Africa and Australia over the last eight months.
With the 25-year-old having been in the ten jersey for those big wins over southern hemisphere sides, Ireland's forwards coach Simon Easterby stressed the side have every confidence in Jackson to fill Sexton's considerable shoes.
"The lads around now look to him when he is speaking and that is the mark of someone who has everyone's ear and the mark of someone who can take the team forward and be that go-to which most teams want their ten to be," Easterby explained.
Jackson's Ulster team-mate Andrew Trimble faces a race to be fit for Murrayfield, however, with a groin niggle.
Ireland's campaign climaxes against champions England in Dublin on March 18.