(Reuters) - Ireland flyhalf Paddy Jackson’s virtuoso display in Saturday’s Six Nations win over Italy means Johnny Sexton has a battle on his hands to reclaim his starting place, head coach Joe Schmidt has said.
Jackson has been impressive in first choice Sexton’s injury absence and the 25-year-old Ulster flyhalf equalled a tournament record of nine successful conversions in one match in the 63-10 victory in Rome.
“This window has allowed Paddy an opportunity to put his hand up and say ‘There shouldn’t be an automatic choice (at flyhalf)’ and he’s done a super job,” Schmidt told British media.
The 31-year-old Sexton, a key figure in Ireland’s Six Nations championship triumphs of 2014 and 2015, is currently nursing a calf problem but is expected to be fit for the side’s next fixture against France in Dublin on Feb. 25.
“Johnny has proven in the past that he can come straight back into the team (after an injury lay off) and hit the ground running,” Schmidt added.
“So it would be good to have them both in camp to square them off, and see how they’re travelling.”
Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar in Bengaluru