London Irish have no concerns over signing Paddy Jackson
Club ‘fairly sure’ they are comfortable with who he’ll be, says chief Brian Facer
Paddy Jackson moved to France after he was let go by Ulster. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho
“We’ll judge the man when he’s here and the way he conducts himself but I’m fairly sure we’re comfortable with who he’ll be,” said London Irish chief executive Brian Facer in the club’s first comments on the recent signing of Jackson, who has been playing this season in France with Perpignan, who were relegated from the elite Top 14 league.
Jackson moved to France after he was let go by Ulster in the wake of a high-profile rape trial. Although he was acquitted, there was considerable public disquiet and anger at details of his behaviour that emerged in evidence.
“We’ve got strict codes of conduct and obviously he’ll have to adhere to the same code of conduct that we do off the field and on the field,” the London Irish boss said.
London Irish has recently secured a return to the lucrative top flight of English rugby, the Gallagher Premiership.
With money from a recent £230 million (€263 million) investment by private equity group CVC in the premiership, it has embarked on an ambitious hiring strategy.
Apart from Jackson, Irish flanker Seán O’Brien is joining the club for next season along with All Black winger Waisake Naholo and Australian Test prop Sekope Kepu.
“We don’t want to comment about his past and where he is because that was settled by a judicial court,” said Mr Facer. “I totally understand that people will have different opinions about how that went and didn’t go and we respect everybody’s opinion but, from our point of view, we want the best players at the best time to give us that best chance.
“[Former Irish coach] Declan [Kidney], having worked with him, [former Ireland and Ulster coach] Les [Kiss], having worked with him, both would view him as one of the best 10s in the world.”
“He’s still a player that’s in his prime, who’s one of the best players of that position in the world so, for us, it’s all about the rugby and the ability for him to play for us,” said Mr Facer. “We’re a club that’s built on good values anyway so it’s all about fitting into the culture and the way we are now.”