Ulster out-half Paddy Jackson has thrown his hat into the ring, as a serious contender for the Irish game against Scotland, following the loss of Jonathan Sexton.
The Leinster player suffered a hamstring tear in the defeat to England and will be out of action for up to ten weeks.
Veteran Ronan O’Gara would be the logical choice for the starting role in Murrayfield, but he appeared to struggle last week when he replaced Sexton and things did not improve in Munster’s Rabo Direct Pro 12 defeat to Scarlets at the weekend. The Cork man missed two penalty chances inside the opening six minutes, and also failed a third from in front of the posts in the second half.
Munster captain Mike Sherry was quick to defend O’Gara: “He [O’Gara] has won plenty of games for us with his kicks and this won’t affect him for next week, he will be fine. He missed one or two kicks, but that is the way it goes, we can’t just rely on him to win games for us.
“He will be disappointed, but he will turn up for training next week and there will be no issues there. He was brilliant all week. It was a first for me to captain the side and both he and Donncha O’Callaghan really helped me. I was very grateful to have them back from Ireland as well as the other lads. It just didn’t go our way.”
Meanwhile, Jackson starred for Ulster in their 26-3 bonus point victory over Zebre at Ravenhill. The performances of both out-halfs will certainly leave Declan Kidney with plenty to consider over the coming days. There must be every chance that he will plump for youth over experience and give Jackson the nod for the big Six Nations clash with the Scots.