Six Nations 2013: Ulster duo Jackson and Marshall handed Ireland debuts
Six Nations 2013: Ulster duo Paddy Jackson and Luke Marshall will make their Ireland debuts against Scotland at Murrayfield
Ulster duo Paddy Jackson and Luke Marshall will make their Ireland debuts against Scotland after Declan Kidney revealed five changes to his starting line-up for the Six Nations clash at Murrayfield.
Jackson, 21, gets the nod for the No.10 jersey ahead of 127-cap fly-half Ronan O’Gara, in the absence of Jonny Sexton, who was one of a number of players to go down with injury in the 12-6 defeat by England last time out.
Both Jackson, who captained Ireland Under-20s last season, and 20-year-old Marshall, who replaces the injured Gordon D’Arcy, featured in Ireland’s non-capped victory over Fiji in the autumn.
On the left wing, Keith Earls will start having replaced Simon Zebo off the bench against England.
Elsewhere, Tom Court comes in at loosehead prop for the suspended Cian Healy while Donncha O’Callaghan will win his 93rd cap in the second row, with Mike McCarthy out with a knee ligament problem.
And Luke Fitzgerald could win his first cap since August 2011, having been named on the replacements bench.
Kidney admitted it was a difficult decision to leave O’Gara out of his starting line-up, but believes both Jackson and Marshall can handle the step-up.
“It was very difficult, there’s no other way to put it but that’s the best possible compliment I can give to Paddy,” said Kidney.
“[O’Gara] took it like the man that he is. I told him of the decision in the morning and then at training he was training like it was his first training ever training session.
“Most teams pick themselves, sometimes the coach has to make the tight calls, that’s what the job is.
“You just have to do what is right for the team. The fact that Paddy and Luke both play of Ulster is a part of the decision but there are a multiplicity of factors, it’s not the reason but it’s part of it.”
Ireland: R Kearney; C Gilroy, B O’Driscoll, L Marshall, K Earls; P Jackson, C Murray; T Court, R Best, M Ross; D O’Callaghan, D Ryan; P O’Mahony, S O’Brien, J Heaslip.
Replacements: S Cronin, D Kilcoyne, D Fitzpatrick, D Toner, I Henderson, E Reddan, R O’Gara, L Fitzgerald.