Jackson ready to stand up to the pressure
A dozen different conclusions will be drawn from it. Even if the players have armoured themselves for a few missed kicks, the crowd are less stoic and more vocal about perceived setbacks.
But young players are durable and while Jackson may thrive or prosper on a few opening decisions, that has been the norm during his career as much as the first scrum will determine what sort of day Mike Ross is expected to have.
His usefulness centres on anchoring the scrum. If others can help out they will. There O’Mahony will be an enthusiastic volunteer.
Advice from me
“Paddy has played in a Heineken Cup final and in the Heineken Cup for a year at this stage,” says the backrow.
“I don’t think he needs any advice from me. I can put my hand on his shoulder and say I’ll be there for him but that’s about all I can tell him. He’s a good footballer.
“All he needs to do now is back himself, have confidence in his ability and he will do fine. He is a great tackler, brave, fabulous distributor and really, it’s only about backing himself and he will do well.”
The reality is that the entire team are responsible for whatever transpires.
Jackson’s role as this fortnight’s fall guy – with bit parts for Madigan and Ronan O’Gara – diverts some attention from the acknowledged frustration and underachievement of the group as a whole.
Jackson’s struggle is a microcosm of a squad that feels it has to justify possession of the jersey and regain the trust of the terraces.
“I think fellas are champing at the bit to get back on the jersey and put in a big performance,” says O’Mahony. “Fellas are really looking forward to the weekend. As I said we just want to put it right . . . you know
“Fellas are really, really looking forward to getting back into it and putting it right. It’s horrible to take after the game and your mood is probably the worst it has been for a long time afterwards. You’ve got to dust your self off.” The serial has finished; now the main feature is just about to start.