Paddy Jackson reveals all about his not-creepy-at-all night time antics

IT’S LATE AT night, the sky is pitch black for miles around Carton House. Outside, the only sound is wind rustling in the trees. Inside, all of Ireland’s rugby squad are sound asleep in their beds.

All bar one. The Ghost of Carton House, a mystery of Scooby Doo proportions.

The ghost wanders here and there, they say (well that’s what they usually say isn’t it?), but continually returns to haunt one man. In he’ll sneak through the walls, a soft tune playing as he glides to the pillow where he whispers a terrifying:

“Hey, Johnno. Johnno! I’m coming for your number 10 jersey,” before drifting back out leaving the Leinster man ashen-faced.

Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Paddy Jackson would have gotten away with it had it not been for… well, for his ‘confession’ today.

After ticking a box with a run-of-the-mill answer to a query about his relationship with his fellow out-halves in Joe Schmidt’s Ireland squad, the 23-year-old slows his voice to a crawl.

“Johnny’s a legend,” Jackson states with a deadpan expression suddenly bereft of humour. In hindsight, we should have seen the joke coming before the punchline hit.

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When the jokes are left aside, the Ulster man may concede that Sexton will remain Schmidt’s first choice by a distance. Indeed, the reason he slipped the word ‘legend’ in was as a forfeit for losing a drop-goal contest with the former Racing Metro man early today.

So the situation remains: Jackson is competing with Ian Madigan to be a back-up to the Lions 10. Though, the issue of sorting out the understudies also remains clouded by Schmidt’s fondness for utility options among his replacements.

While Madigan was rumoured to be tested out in a fourth position at scrum-half, Jackson is staying focused on mastering the one trade. With Ulster last season, he spent some limited time in the centre outside Ian Humphreys and many less mobile out-halves have settled in quite well at fullback. Yet Jackson hasn’t gone banging on Schmidt’s door asking to be tested outside of his favoured position.

“If I’m playing at the top of my game there’s no reason why I wouldn’t be on the bench or even getting in there on the team. For myself and Ian it’s a bit out of our hands. All we can do is play as well as we can and try to show what we can do on the pitch.

Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“I’ve just got to approach it as if I’m starting or if I’m going to get on early in the game. I’ve been involved on the bench a few times now and that’s the approach I go in with.”

He adds: “I could be on at any stage or at any second, so I just try and prepare as if I’m starting the game and know the plays as well as the other guys do.”

“You’re always thinking in your head ‘who is he going to bring? Who is going to be involved?’

“You have moments of doubt and then other moments you’re confident you could be going. It’s been up and down the last six or seven weeks. It’s about showing what you can do and, if you get your chance, do it on the pitch.”

On the pitch in broad daylight, not in the halls of Carton House at 3AM.

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