Jackson in line for Ulster debut

ULSTER’S burgeoning teenager Paddy Jackson could make a shock Magners League debut against the Scarlets in Llanelli this evening.

Fly-half Jackson, 19, was named on the bench for the game at Parc y Scarlets, but although Ian Humphreys was originally selected at half-back, there is still a major doubt over his recovery from a wrenched shoulder sustained in the defeat by the Ospreys last week.

Jackson, a product of the Methodist College rugby nursery, has been a key member of the Ireland U20 Six Nations side and his promotion would be a major step-up in class.

However, if called upon, Jackson will have the wily skills of Ruan Pienaar and Paddy Wallace either side of him. A member of the Ulster Academy, Jackson is an excellent kicker with good handling skills complimenting quick feet.

Coach Brian McLaughlin is certainly not afraid to give youngsters their chance as shown when naming Craig Gilroy on the right wing, which sees Scotland’s Simon Danielli drops to the bench.

As well as Wallace, internationals Andrew Trimble and Tom Court also return to the starting line-up while Andi Kyriacou replaces Nigel Brady at hooker and TJ Anderson comes in for flanker Willie Faloon.

Wallace is looking forward to getting back into the action with Ulster after spending his time on the Ireland bench.

“It’s nice to get back with Ulster and probably getting some game time,” said Wallace. “You want to put yourself forward for selection for the Scotland game, so you want to play well knowing that Declan’s probably going to be watching it.

“You don’t really have a chance to influence games too much from sitting on the bench. Basically you’re just more or less a spectator. So certainly the French game was very frustrating.

“But Friday’s game is one we’ve got to win because we don’t want to get too far down the table at this stage of the season,” said Wallace.

Connacht need to ensure they make home advantage count if they want to overtake visitors Glasgow Warriors in tonight’s Magners League fixture at the Galway Sportsground (7pm).

With both sides currently level on 21 points, tonight’s clash is expected to be highly competitive, and coach Eric Elwood knows Glasgow, who lost 15 — 26 to Cardiff last weekend, will arrive in Galway having targeted his side.

Meanwhile, former Irish Schools’ second-row Lewis Stevenson has moved from London Harlequins to Ulster on a two-year deal while leaving Ravenhill is former Ireland A lock Ryan Caldwell who has signed a two-year deal with Bath.

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