Best backs Jackson to recover
March 1, 2013
Rory Best has few doubts that Paddy Jackson will improve with experience © Getty Images
The young fly-half endured a torrid time with his kicking and missed a total of eight points from two penalties and a conversion at Murrayfield. They proved crucial as Scotland fought back from an 8-0 deficit to win 12-8 thanks to four penalties from scrum-half Greig Laidlaw. It was the second time in his fledgling career that Jackson has failed to deliver in a high-profile match. In the 2012 Heineken Cup final he was unable to cope with the pressure of pulling the strings against Leinster and was eventually substituted for the more-experienced Ian Humphreys.
His match against Scotland ended in a similar manner when Ireland coach Declan Kidney took him off for Ronan O'Gara as Ireland tried desperately to get back into the match, but Best has few doubts that Jackson will grow into the role as he gains more experience.
"When you're a professional player not everything goes perfectly for you," Best said. "Paddy's a fantastic talent, a great player with a great attitude. His general play was very good, but under the type of microscope that's on Test rugby every detail is analysed. It's unrealistic to think that you will go through your career without having moments when things didn't go so well.
"Great players dust themselves down and critically analyse what they did and try to get better the next week. Even at this young age Paddy has had a few moments at Ulster, but has bounced back strongly. That's the type of guy he is and why he will bounce back from this."
The loss to Scotland was Ireland's second of the Six Nations after their 12-6 defeat to England in round two. The opening 45 minutes of their first fixture when they blew away Wales, before holding on to win 30-22 seems a long time ago and injuries to Jonny Sexton and Simon Zebo against England have since derailed a campaign in which they were expected to be among the challengers for the title.
Furthermore speculation continues to grow over Kidney's future, but despite the two losses and off-field distractions, Best feels that they will soon be forgotten about, especially if they end the Championship with wins over France and Italy.
"It's not a difficult environment to work in," Best said. "Only two or three weeks ago we were talking about players' contracts. It's professional sport. We're in it as a team and squad, and that includes the management.
"We have two games left to play and we must finish well. It will be tough against France, but we're back at home. We will have to be much more efficient at putting away the chances that we create than we have been. We prepared to beat Scotland and didn't. Our standards have slipped because we expect to win these games. But we still have a lot of confidence in the ability in this squad."
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