Jackson expecting a bruising Blues battle

Ulster fly-half Paddy Jackson is back in harness for this evening’s derby against rivals Leinster.

Having missed the Zebre clash through illness, Jackson is raring for road, but acknowledges than an improved performance is called for following the stuttering display against the Italians.

“It was one of those matches where we just didn’t get going, so I wouldn’t look too much at it,” said the 21-year old.

“I was sick all week and barely left the house. I think if I had been available I wouldn’t have been able to play. It wasn’t really my decision but it is not too bad getting a week’s break particularly with the block of games coming up now.

“Interprovincials will always be tough. They are the games you want to be involved in and it should be fun. I just try and focus on what I can do and how it will affect the team’s performance.”

Ulster enter the contest on the back of five straight wins, having not conceded a try in their last four hours of competitive action. Leinster, on the other side of the coin, will be desperate to avoid a third consecutive defeat.

“I doubt Leinster have lost three games in a row, especially in the last while,” Jackson continued.

“So they will be very determined to win to break the sequence. With us attempting to win in Dubln as we did last year, both teams will be fighting for it. It will be very physical and everyone is looking to show what they can do out there especially at Irish level, so I think everyone will be gunning for it.

“We want to stay up at the top of the table and every point counts. It’s very close especially with the top teams playing each other. Obviously a home semi and final at a new-look Ravenhill would be great, but it’s a bit far ahead for now but it is certainly something to keep in the back of our minds.”

Coach Mark Anscombe has made a total of nine changes for the clash with full-back Ricky Andrew the only player behind the scrum to keep his place from the narrow win over Zebre. Darren Cave and Luke Marshall return to midfield with Andrew Trimble and Craig Gilroy on the wing.

Up front, Robbie Diack has recovered from a jarred shoulder to lead the side.


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