Sean O’Brien, Allan Dell, Nick Phipps and Curtis Rona were the first wave of announcements, whilst that was followed by confirmation that Sekope Kepu, Adam Coleman and Waisake Naholo will all also be wearing green next season. With the recent injection of cash from the CVC investment in the Gallagher Premiership, Irish have not been afraid to dust off their chequebook this season.
One signing that has received less adulation, however, has been the arrival of Paddy Jackson from Perpignan. With plenty of negativity and threats of boycott on social media, Irish will be hoping that that does not translate into the real world and impact on attendances, especially with the club just a year away from moving into the new stadium in Brentford.
Jackson, who was acquitted after being put on trial for rape last year, is set to be one of the biggest earners at the club, with RugbyPass sources indicating that he is set to be on a figure close to £500k a year at the promoted side. If the reported figure of O’Brien being on £450k is also true, Irish will be investing the best part of a million pounds in just two players, neither of whom has the marquee player tag, nor who would provide any sort of credits to the salary cap.
Jackson has 25 caps for Ireland, the first of which came under London Irish director of rugby Declan Kidney back in 2013, whilst he also worked with Les Kiss, Irish’s head coach, at Ulster, and clearly both men believe they can get him back to his best in Reading.
The 27-year-old has spent the last season with Perpignan in the Top 14, following his sacking by Ulster and the IRFU in 2018. Perpignan have won just two of their 24 games so far this season, with Jackson starting less than half of those matches.
The fly-half position always carries a premium in salaries, yet Irish fans will likely still balk at the figure given the player is increasingly far removed from those previous highs with Ulster and Ireland.
That said, if he can help Irish avoid relegation back to the Greene King IPA Championship next season, they will consider it money wisely spent and his previous conduct off the field will become a less talked about subject.
Watch: Gregor Townsend talks to the press after naming his expanded RWC training squad.
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