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It hurt to hear Kingspan crowd boo, but we're determined to halt slide: Jackson

By Jonathan Bradley

After Ulster's European season concluded in an almost silent Kingspan Stadium on Saturday, out-half Paddy Jackson has admitted it was tough to hear boos among the home crowd during the loss to Bordeaux.

With the team on such a poor run - they have won only four games since travelling to Connacht in the first week of October - and the game carrying no quarter-final permutations, any atmosphere generated during the 26-22 win for the Top 14 outfit came from visiting fans.

And with some of the hosts' more basic errors being met with jeers, Jackson admitted it was a wholly unpleasant experience.

"There were a few heckles from the home supporters, which is hard to take," said the out-half.

"They obviously don't like what they're seeing so you just try and block it out.

"It's frustrating for everyone. There's mistakes and it's not good enough. Mentally we're switching off, individually and as a team."

The Ulster players met for a lengthy huddle on the pitch following the final whistle with former captain Rory Best addressing his team-mates.

Jackson revealed that the Ireland skipper stressed the need to thank the fans who had stuck out what was arguably their worst showing of the season under the circumstances.

"Rory just said let's go thank the fans for being here, those that stayed," Jackson said.

"It was really just to get the lads in and to thank the fans for still supporting us."

Jackson was one of the players known to be most vocal after the loss to the Exeter Chiefs a week prior, and has emerged as one of the side's real leaders as his standing both with province and Ireland has grown.

Although a missed straightforward penalty could have changed how the game's conclusion panned out, his own form, and that of fellow Irish internationals Best and Iain Henderson, has not been part of Ulster's problems.

He was disappointed, however, that the side could not harness the hurt of Sandy Park into a reaction against Bordeaux.

"There were a few harsh truths last week and we're going to have to stick to it," he said. "It's frustrating for everyone watching and for us, but what you're asking is for us to fix something just like that, that's what we're trying to do.

"What we've set out to do internally will take some time and now we have two weeks to get that fixed."

While a run of fixtures that should result in Ulster wins even if they're far from their best is upcoming, Jackson is likely to spend the next number of weeks with Ireland in the Six Nations.

"I haven't thought much about the Six Nations to be honest," he insisted. "Everything was so focused on the last two weeks.

"Now I'm going to have to sit down and go home and dwell on this game and then it's time to look forward and hopefully I'll get the involvement there.

"I'll just try to keep playing as well as I can. That's all I can do.

"Looking back to the autumn, I felt I was in a really good place coming away from that. Hopefully I can pick up where I left off.

"I would love to be here (to help put things right) too.

"But you never know what's going to happen.

"We've got guys coming back who are going to have to step up big time and bring a real energy and a real enthusiasm to the squad. That's a positive we can look at."

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