Wednesday 8 February 2023 Dublin: 7°C
©INPHO/Billy Stickland Paddy Jackson must be hoping for a simple penalty effort first up.
# points mean prizes
No set number of misses before Jackson loses kicking privileges
Ireland team manager Mick Kearney is hopeful that the Ulster outhalf can bring his practice form to Saturday’s match.

THE IRISH COACHING staff and players have kept close to the script ahead of the France game.

The Scottish loss was frustrating, Jamie Heaslip is doing a fine job as captain, the Irish defence is the best in the tournament and Paddy Jackson, kicking aside, played well on debut.

The Ulster outhalf found Luke Marshall for two linebreaks and turned over Scottish centre Matt Scott but he was not immune to handling errors and should have found touch before Ireland conceded a penalty on 52 minutes.

Most of the reasonable concern this week, however, has been who will kick for the home side on Saturday.

Jackson came through a midweek fitness test to retain his 10 jersey and kicking duties but he will have to ignore the sharp intake of breath when he steps up for his first kick at the French goal.

Ireland team manager Mick Kearney told that mid-game decisions on kickers would be up to Declan Kidney, with consultation from skills coach Mark Tainton.

He added that there is not magic number of Jackson misses that would lead to a switch to Fergus McFadden or replacement outhalf Ian Madigan. Kearney said:

I think we’ll just wait and see how he is going and how he is kicking the ball. If there are a couple of difficult ones early on and he misses but strikes the ball well there wouldn’t be any reason to change him.

“It really does depend on how he is kicking but, as I’ve said, we’ve every confidence about how he’ll do on Saturday.

“He’s been kicking really well in practice… I’d say we are very hopeful he will do well.”

Mick Kearney tells how it is at Carton House. (©INPHO/Cathal Noonan)

France go into this Saturday’s Six Nations tie with a halfback pairing of Morgan Parra and Freddie Michalak, a duo with 571 combined, kicked points in Test rugby.

Kearney said, “Around the world, generally, the number 10 takes the placed kicks; there are exceptions like Parra.”

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285 points including 66 penalties and 37 conversions for the exceptional exception – someone should tee up Conor Murray and see how he gets on.

Jackson has three but is fresh [we hope] from his debut and the on-field choice if he goes awry, Fergus McFadden, has not kicked at international level. The sub, Ian Madigan, is on the cusp of a first outing in green.

Jackson, McFadden and Madigan all travelled to the Aviva Stadium on Wednesday for kicking practice with Tainton and, according to the team manager, passed muster.

Irish supporters, who will fill the stadium in hope more than expectation, may unleash the biggest cheer of the day if referee Steve Walsh penalises the French right in front of their posts.

Paul O’Connell expected to return to action next week

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