IRELAND are confident that Paddy Jackson will prove his mixed Test debut was only an aberration after entrusting their young Ulster stand-off with the kicking duties against France.
Jackson has been selected in the No 10 jersey for the RBS Six Nations clash at the Aviva Stadium after passing a fitness test on the hamstring strain he suffered during training on Monday.
Uncapped Leinster playmaker Ian Madigan will provide cover on a bench including Munster prop Stephen Archer. Jackson’s first cap was a mixture of good and bad as his promising touches in open play contrasted with a poor afternoon from the kicking tee that enabled Scotland to triumph 12-6.
The 21-year-old’s nerves have since been settled after finishing with a 19-point haul, completing seven of nine shots at goal, while on Ulster duty last weekend. Combined with his output in training over the last two days, that has been enough to win the vote of coach Declan Kidney.
“Paddy is first choice and we have every confidence that he will perform in all facets of his game, including place kicking,” said team manager Mick Kearney.
Meanwhile, France coach Philippe Saint-Andre has shaken up his back division with three changes. In come centre Florian Fritz, wing Maxime Medard and stand-off Frederic Michalak with Benjamin Fall, Mathieu Bastareaud and Francois Trinh-Duc dropping out.
England head coach Stuart Lancaster will this morning confirm his team to face Italy at Twickenham on Sunday. Saracens loosehead prop Mako Vunipola is set to make his first England start alongside hooker Tom Youngs, with James Haskell likely to return at blindside flanker.
Toby Flood will replace the injured Owen Farrell at stand-off, while Danny Care is expected to get his chance at scrum-half as Lancaster looks to “freshen things up”.