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Published: 11:43 | 3/6/16

Best backs Jackson to shine

Jackson expected to play key role in South Afica

Ireland captain Rory Best believes Paddy Jackson will make a major impact on the upcoming tour to South Africa following Jonathan Sexton's withdrawal through injury.

The Ulster out-half, who enjoyed a fine season for the Ravenhill outfit, is now expected to be given the number 10 jersey for the first test at Newlands next weekend and Best has backed his club-mate to shine.

Sexton was forced to withdraw from the Ireland touring party on Thursday and has already gone under the knife for a shoulder injury incurred in Leinster's PRO12 final defeat to Connacht in Edinburgh last weekend.

His loss will come as a major blow to Joe Schmidt's side, but Best believes that Jackson has the skills and the confidence to seize his opportunity with both hands.

"I've talked a lot about how much he's learned from Johnny, and the way he conducts himself around Ulster is learned from how Johnny conducts himself in this environment," he said.

"He knows the plays and he runs the plays and he has confidence in that.

"It's a big opportunity for him, there's no doubt. It's a big shirt to fill, with what Johnny has done for Ireland and Leinster, but it's an opportunity for Jacko to come in and put his own slant on it.

"He's surrounded by people that he knows, he's been involved in a lot of camps and played a few tests. He has the confidence of the group, there's no doubt.

"It's an opportunity for him to come in and continue the form he showed at the end of the season for Ulster."

By: Kieran O'Daly

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