x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Rugby Six Nations: Ireland's coach opts for youth over experience

Coach Declan Kidney will go with the young Paddy Jackson, who will make his Test debut for Ireland when they meet Scotland in a Six Nations rugby match on Sunday.

Ireland's regular fly-half Jonathan Sexton, centre, is among a host of injured Ireland players so Paddy Jackson will replace him in the lineup on Sunday against Scotland in a Six Nations Rugby match. Michael Bradley / AFP
Ireland's regular fly-half Jonathan Sexton, centre, is among a host of injured Ireland players so Paddy Jackson will replace him in the lineup on Sunday against Scotland in a Six Nations Rugby match. Michael Bradley / AFP

EDINBURGH // Paddy Jackson will look to repay the trust shown him by coach Declan Kidney when he makes his Test debut for an injury-hit Ireland away to Scotland in the Six Nations at Murrayfield on Sunday.

With regular fly-half Jonathan Sexton one of several Ireland players ruled out through injury after a bruising 12-6 defeat to England in Dublin, Kidney – often regarded as a conservative coach – could simply have called up veteran stand-off Ronan O'Gara.

But for all he is Ireland's most-capped player, O'Gara faltered when he came off the bench to replace the injured Sexton at Lansdowne Road against England and Kidney has now made the bold call to throw talented 21 year old Jackson straight in at the deep end of international rugby.

"Paddy's inclusion was a challenge, given the stature of Ronan O'Gara, but I think Paddy deserves a go," said Kidney, who has kept O'Gara on the bench. However, Jackson's previous taste of the big stage saw him suffer a nightmare match, with the stand-off substituted early in the second half of Ulster's 42-14 European Cup final defeat by Irish rivals Leinster at Twickenham in May.

However, Ireland great Brian O'Driscoll – an opponent then but a Test teammate now – insisted Jackson didn't have as bad a match as reported.

"There were a couple of skewed kicks, but that was the extent of it," said O'Driscoll, the Lions centre.

"He did the fundamental things like tackling well. It certainly hasn't affected him in any way, shape or form and he deserves his [Ireland] opportunity."

This match sees Scotland, who finished with the wooden spoon last season, having to prove they can cope with the burden of hope after a 34-10 defeat of Italy last time out.

"As a squad there is no danger of us getting carried away with one match; it was our first [Six Nations] win in two years," captain Kelly Brown said.

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