Thursday 28 March 2013

Getting Jackson confident again

Before the Scotland game when Paddy Jackson was parachuted into the starting lineup, the RTE panel of George Hook, Conor O'Shea and Brent Pope were in agreement, whatever happens with Jackson during the game, Kidney should stick with him to help his development in the long term.

Fair play to Deccie, that's exactly what he did and rightly so, but now that he's come through those 3 games, what now for Jackson?

Jackson strikes me as a confident young player, and while Newstalk on Wednesday were talking about how he doesn't necessarily need an arm around the shoulder, it's still important that he is managed correctly.
He returned to Ulster colours last Friday and looked a pale shadow of his former confident self from only a few weeks prior.

Now is a very important time in Jackson's development, and if handled wrong he might fade into obscurity.

I have a feeling that come the Autumn, he may have fallen back into not just 2nd choice, but 3rd choice Irish out-half after Ian Madigan. This could shatter his confidence even more than it is now.

Here's what needs to happen to ensure that Jackson comes back sooner with confidence and can continue developing as a player (and lip syncer).

1. Take him off the kicks for Ulster for the rest of this season. While at the same time he needs to work on his kicking. A lot. Not just placekicking but out of hand too. Mark Tainton should be told to go to Ulster and work overdrive with him so when it comes to the summer tour or to next season, he can step up and resume kicking duties for Ulster.

2. He must be selected for the summer tour. None of this summer off business that prevented him from playing in the JWC. Being selected in this tour against opposition that are at a much lower standard will help get his confidence up for the new season. Being around the Irish camp and Kidney will be important this summer, especially as he should be looking to start to dictate things in that squad.

3. He needs to be incorporated into the IRFU player welfare programme asap. While games help his development, he looks jaded, and needs some time off. He's young and eager to fix things, but he's trying to hard and things aren't working. A week off here and there would be good for him. The summer tour is important for his development, and he can't be too jaded for it.

Because everyone in Ireland wants him back to his best, releasing his buddy Luke Marshall through gaps, and controlling the game by knowing when to kick for territory and when to release the talented young Ulster backs. We want wee Jackson back rumblin'.

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