Schmidt backs Jackson’s form

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt believes Paddy Jackson has shown enough class for him to make a huge impact when they face the two-time World Rugby champions on home soil.

The 2015 Six Nations champions are set to play three Test matches against the Springboks in South Africa during the June internationals.

Ireland were handed a huge blow when experienced playmaker Johnny Sexton was ruled out of the Test series due to a shoulder injury and is set to remain on the sidelines for up to three months.

Ian Madigan was called up to the 32-man group following the injury to Sexton.

Schmidt has affirmed his decision by including Jackson ahead of UBB-bound Madigan by pointing out the fine form that the young fly-half has been having with Ulster, this despite Madigan, previously, getting the nod ahead of Jackson.

The abscence of some of Ulster's hardmen, like Rory Best, allowed the 24-year-old pivot to step up and improve his leadership ability.

"I don't think we can live with regrets," Schmidt told The Belfast Telegraph. 

"At the time Johnny played really well and we needed the multi-cover off the bench from Ian Madigan because we tended to lose players during those games.

"At the same time, Paddy was in and out of camp during that time so he was certainly up to speed in terms of what we were doing. There was probably a real upsurge in his form.

"He was running a team (Ulster) that he was the experienced player in. The old guys like Rory (Best) weren't there. He really took the team by the scruff of the neck and I think he grew during that period.

"There is always a silver lining and Paddy made the most of that. That showed in his end of season form."