Bold Jackson over O’Gara choice can hand Ireland Six Nations win
Brian O’Driscoll proved in Ireland’s opening Six Nations win over Wales that there is still plenty of life in the old guard, but Declan Kidney has opted against starting Ronan O’Gara for the clash with Scotland.
O’Gara was the obvious option to start at number 10 at Murrayfield, with Jonny Sexton ruled out with a hamstring tear, with his big-game experience expected to give him the nod.
However, he has not been at his best for Munster this season and his impact as a replacement was minimal in the Six Nations defeat to England.
Kidney has obviously taken note of this as he has chosen to give a first full cap to Paddy Jackson, with Ireland 4/6 to beat Scotland.
Jackson does have some big-game experience having started for Ulster in the last Heineken Cup final at the age of 20, while he is most like Sexton in terms of setting up attacks, rather than playing for territory as O’Gara more regularly tends to.
This approach may be especially vital against Scotland, given that they have Stuart Hogg at full-back.
If O’Gara did start and kicked as badly as he did against England, Hogg would be more dangerous than most at taking advantage.
By committing tacklers and attacking the gain line, Jackson will present fewer opportunities to Hogg, who is the Scottish player that is most capable of making something out of nothing.
Scotland are 5/4 to make it back-to-back victories after their triumph over Italy.
In total, Kidney will make five changes from the team that were beaten by England, with Ulster centre Luke Marshall in for Gordon D’Arcy, Keith Earls replacing the injured Simon Zebo on the wing, Donncha O’Callaghan replacing Mike McCarthy in the second row and Tom Court a surprise pick at loose-head ahead of Dave Kilcoyne.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.