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Paddy Jackson: I'd still be young enough to play for Irish in 2023


Eager: Paddy Jackson wants minutes on the pitch

Eager: Paddy Jackson wants minutes on the pitch

Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Eager: Paddy Jackson wants minutes on the pitch

Talk of Rugby World Cups prompts Ulster fly-half Paddy Jackson to recall his first memories of the international tournament.

Australia in 2003. Makes us all feel old.

"It was just unbelievable," he recalls. "Watching (Jonny) Wilkinson getting that last-minute drop goal.

"It's obviously the highlight of any rugby player's career and as a kid, it's something you look forward to.

"When you are watching, you are trying to get home from school to watch every game.

"It's just a really special time for everybody in the rugby community. If we brought it home it would be pretty cool."

Unlike his provincial team mate Andrew Trimble, the 22-year-old Jackson would be 31 should Ireland host the World Cup in 2023, matching his potential prime as a player. No wonder he is stimulated by the news of the World Cup bid.

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"It's awesome," says the former Methody man.

"It's a bit far away in terms of playing the rugby but you can even see now how many people it has brought together.

"It's exciting for me as a prospect that I could be involved. Hopefully I will be injury-free, still playing and will get picked.

"But that's something at the back of my mind, if it came to Ireland it would be special for me to play in front of my home crowd and all the other lads as well."

And with that, talk turns to Ireland, the progress even since the Six Nations triumph under Joe Schmidt, although Jackson's injuries have cast him to the periphery.

"Obviously, they did brilliantly there in autumn to get the three wins, especially against South Africa and Australia. South Africa have beaten New Zealand not so long ago. Performances have been pretty clinical and Joe is a brilliant coach.

"I have enjoyed working with him when I have had the chance and hopefully I will get a few more chances in the future."

His latest injury, in late November against the Ospreys when he suffered an AC joint sprain, is expected to keep him out until the New Year.

"It's been a pretty stop-start season for me in terms of injuries - my back, two concussions and another shoulder injury," he rued.

"Following on from being injury-free for so long and then picking up four in a row… yeah, it's been tough trying to get a bit of form. It's been the longest I have been out of rugby and I have felt a bit rusty.

"On a positive note, I was playing well against Ospreys and hopefully it will only be a couple more weeks until I get back."

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