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'First and foremost, Paddy is a good rugby player' - London Irish head coach Kiss defends Jackson signing

The former Ulster chief also said he believed that most fans backed the fly-half joining the club.

Les Kiss with Paddy Jackson.
Les Kiss with Paddy Jackson.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

LONDON IRISH HEAD coach Les Kiss has defended the club’s decision to sign Paddy Jackson, claiming that most fans backed the fly-half’s arrival.

Speaking on Wednesday, former Ulster head coach Kiss admitted he understood that the player’s past would follow him and that there would be stories written about the club’s decision to sign him.

Last year, Jackson and fellow Irish international Stuart Olding were acquitted of rape after a nine-week trial that received extensive media coverage.

The 27-year-old spent last season trying to get his career back on track at French Top 14 side Perpignan, having had his contract with Irish province Ulster terminated in the wake of the trial.

There has been a strong reaction to his transfer to London Irish, most notably the decision of long-time sponsors Diageo to pull their backing of the English Premiership club.

“The bottom line is that if you look at everything, I think there is more support than not. That’s my view,” Kiss told The Telegraph.

“First and foremost Paddy is a good rugby player and it’s an opportunity for him to further his career. He saw that as a good opportunity.

People will have their opinions on the back story and the past, but we believe what we are about and we believe we are doing the right thing.

“Things will be thrown at us I guess, but the story is about everyone — we have signed a lot of good players.

“Ultimately we are a team and we will go out and play that way and come what may we will stick together.”

- Originally published at 12.21

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