Andrew Dunne: Paddy Jackson's growth going unnoticed
He has an interesting perspective on the Ireland and Ulster out half20:51 Monday 20 February 2017, 20:51 20 Feb 2017
Former Leinster and Bath player Andrew Dunne has suggested that Paddy Jackson's efforts for Ireland deserve greater recognition.
The Ulster out half is behind Jonathan Sexton in the Ireland pecking order when the Leinster player is fit.
But with Sexton injured for the first two Six Nations matches, Jackson has worn the 10 shirt in the matches against Scotland and Italy.
Sexton could feature against France this week but must prove his fitness by Tuesday. If the game comes too early, Jackson would likely play again and Dunne told Off The Ball that the player deserves more credit and backing.
"If you compartmentalise each part of Paddy Jackson's game over the last year, he's delivered and nobody seems to be paying any attention to that," he said.
Ireland’s Jonathan Sexton Paddy Jackson and Paul O'Connell after the match ©INPHO/Billy Stickland
"How long can he keep delivering at each level - place kicking, line kicking, distribution - and he's grown and grown as a player and at some point, you've got to say he deserves to be there ahead of a guy who currently hasn't been able to sustain or put together, physically just through injury, back to back performances. So at some point, I think you have to show some belief in Paddy Jackson."
And talking statistics, Dunne feels "you're getting into the area of intangibles" when comparing and contrasting the games of Ireland's two leading out halves at the moment.
He also added that the only way Jackson's "gravitas" and "command of the group" within the Ireland camp will grow is if he isn't immediately dropped and replaced by Sexton as soon as the latter is fit.
"He's answering all the questions. He's proven as opposed to proving," said Dunne, highlighting that "proven" means he already has the pedigree rather than being in the midst of a growth.
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