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Jackson set for Irish game

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Paddy Jackson could make London Irish debut in Ireland next week

Former Ireland international Paddy Jackson could be playing his first game on Irish shores in over two years if he is named in the team to play Munster in a pre-season friendly next week.

London Irish defence coach Declan Danaher told the BBC that new signing Paddy Jackson is “keen to get on with business”.

Along with his former Ulster teammate Stuart Olding, the fly-half was acquitted of rape in March last year following a nine-week trial during which it was revealed the provincial colleagues exchanged lewd text messages that were derogatory towards women.

He played for Perpignan last season in the Top 14, but signed for Irish a few months ago to an outcry from women’s rights organisations, with some London Irish fans vowing to boycott the Madejski Stadium in opposition at his arrival, while long-standing sponsor Diageo ended its sponsorship of the club.

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This has been a controversial period for both Jackson and the Exiles, and it may not be helped with Declan Kidney’s side travelling to Cork next week to take on Munster at Irish Independent Park for the Jake Wakefield Memorial Trophy.

Should the 27-year-old play, it will be the first time on Irish soil in over two years, and it will be interesting to see what reception he receives.

The entire court case surrounding Jackson, and what ensued after it, proved to be a divisive topic, with many fans being vehemently against the Ireland international being given a contract, while many others supported him.

Munster can be a particularly hostile place to play, particularly for someone that may not be a popular figure. This was shown at the Ricoh Arena earlier this season, and the treatment Saracens’ Billy Vunipola was given by the travelling supporters. At home, it will only be more intense.

With the Premiership season starting in October, and the Premiership Rugby Cup being played before then, this may be a fixture that the fly-half may not look forward to, but maybe something the club must come to expect as the season goes on.

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Paddy Jackson could make London Irish debut in Ireland next week