Paddy Jackson passes fitness test for Ireland.
Paddy Jackson won the race to be Ireland’s starting outside-half in their Six Nations international against France after being included in a revised side.
Ireland coach Declan Kidney named a team without a starting or reserve stand-off as he waited on the fitness of Jackson, who was suffering from a tight hamstring.
The 21-year-old Ulster fly-half made his Test debut in Ireland’s previous match, an 12-8 loss to Scotland at Murrayfield last month where the visitors failed to secure victory despite dominating possession and territory.
Ireland’s cause wasn’t helped that day by Jackson, who isn’t a regular goalkicker for his province, missing three out of his four shots at the posts.
However, he showed promise in open play and Ireland team manager Mick Kearney, speaking Thursday, said Jackson was fit to face the French in Dublin on Saturday.
“Paddy kicked in the Aviva Stadium (Lansdowne Road) yesterday (Wednesday) and kicked well and trained fully this (Thursday) morning,” Kearney explained.
“Paddy’s hamstring first tightened up after Monday’s session so there was a bit of concern about him.
“He sat out the session on Tuesday, received treatment and did some light running in the afternoon.
“He then came through kicking at the Aviva Stadium yesterday afternoon very well, so that clarified things for us, but up until then there was some small doubt.
“There was no discomfort this morning so he’ll be fine.”
Jackson only played in Edinburgh because first-choice outside-half Jonathan Sexton suffered a hamstring injury of his own in the preceding loss to England in Dublin.
Veteran No 10 Ronan O’Gara, Ireland’s most-capped player, was left out of Ireland’s provisional 32-man squad to play France, sparking fresh doubts about the 36-year-old’s Test career.
O’Gara, capped 128 times by Ireland, came off the bench against Scotland but did not provide the calming influence his side needed.
And there was no late recall for the Munster hero on Thursday, with Ireland including the in-form, but uncapped, Ian Madigan of Leinster on the bench as their reserve fly-half.
The replacement tight head slot was also confirmed with Munster’s uncapped Stephen Archer on the bench.
Ireland will be looking to stop the rot at Lansdowne Road on Saturday after back-to-back defeats by England and Scotland.
But France’s form is even worse, with the pre-tournament favourites bottom of the table following three straight losses and facing the prospect of a first Championship whitewash since 1957.