ULSTER assistant coach, Neil Doak is tipping young out half Paddy Jackson for big things after his Heineken Cup final appearance last season.
“If you look at it last year you could say Paddy was thrown in at the deep end coming in for such big games at the back end of the season but I think the experience he has around him has settled him down and he now has the opportunity,” said Doak.
“At the start of the season him and Niall (O’Connor) were fighting it out for 10 and he has edged it. He’s still young and he will grow with the players around him and he’ll grow within the team, it will probably take 18 to 24 months but he has good consistency to his game, he needs to be a real leader on the pitch for the team and hopefully that will lead onto big and better things for him and may getting the green jersey down the line.
“He has to show the consistency with Ulster first and be the vocal point and communicator with regards to that.”
In recent previous years Connacht at home would have been a game Ulster would have been expected to win easily but these days the men from the west are a different beast.
“Over the last number of years they have consistently improved, they have had some great runs in Europe and that is something they target,” added Doak.
“They have taken that experience from Europe and taken it into the Pro12 and are performing on a more consistence basis.
“They are pretty physical, they have Dan Parks who can kick goals, they have some decent runners in the back and some physical forwards and it won’t be easy for us.”