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London Irish opt not to stoke controversy in Ireland with Paddy Jackson

London Irish have steered clear of the potential for controversy by opting not to bring Paddy Jackson with them to Ireland when they open their new season away to Munster next Friday.

The out-half – sacked by the IRFU in April 2018 despite being found not guilty at a high profile court case in Belfast – hasn’t played a single match in his home country since he was forced to earn his living outside Ireland. 

Perpignan, the French club Jackson joined last season, excluded him from their squad last December when they travelled to Galway to take on Connacht in a Challenge Cup pool fixture. 

Now his latest employer, London Irish, has decided not to bring the opinion-dividing half-back to Cork for their annual Jack Wakefield Memorial Trophy fixture with Munster. 

Jackson’s signing by the newly promoted Gallagher Premiership club has already stoked controversy as long-time club sponsor Guinness pulled their sponsorship last June and it remains to be seen how the player’s presence will be received on the English league circuit once that tournament gets going in mid-October. 

(Continue reading below…)

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It was alleged that an appearance by Jackson in Cork could have been problematic as more than 100 people had already indicated their intention to protest. 

Jackson, who was publicly backed by his coach Declan Kidney last week, has not played a match in Ireland since the curtain came down on his Ulster career with a late April 2017 PRO12 win over Leinster in Belfast, the same game that was the last appearance of Ruan Pienaar in the Ravenhill club’s colours.  

With Jackson kept on ice, Irish are travelling to Munster with a squad of 29 players which has Stephen Myler and Jacob Atkins pencilled in at their options at out-half.  

The friendly is the English club’s only pre-season fixture ahead of their Premiership Cup campaign, which begins September 21 with a trip to Kingsholm to play Gloucester.

London Irish (v Munster, Friday)

1. Harry Elrington/Will Goodrick-Clarke

2. Dave Porecki/Ross McMillan*

3. Lovejoy Chawatama/Patric Cilliers

4. Chunya Munga/Barney Maddison ©

5. Franco van der Merwe ©/Sam Collingridge

6. George Nott/Ben Donnell

7. Conor Gilsenan/Blair Cowan

8. Matt Rogerson/Izaiha Moore-Aione

9. Rory Brand/Scott Steele

10. Stephen Myler/Jacob Atkins

11./14. Ollie Hassell-Collins/Ben Loader/Tom Fowlie

12. Terrence Hepetema/Matt Williams

13. Curtis Rona/Brendan Macken

15. Tom Parton/Will Partington

*Ross McMillan has joined London Irish on a short-term contract as World Cup cover.

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London Irish opt not to stoke controversy in Ireland with Paddy Jackson