Paddy Jackson set for return to Ireland with Perpignan

Paddy Jackson
Paddy Jackson

Former Ireland and Ulster player Paddy Jackson is poised to make a return to playing on Irish soil next season.

Jackson recently signed for French side Perpignan and yesterday the TOP14 club were drawn in the same European Challenge Cup pool as Connacht.

That could see Jackson playing at the Sportsground as early as October with the Catalan club.

Jackson was forced to leave Ireland to continue his professional playing career after he and fellow Irish team mate, Stuart Olding, had their Irish contracts were revoked by the IRFU following an internal review after they were unaminously acquitted by a jury of rape charges in March.

Also included in the group are Sale Sharks who Jackson had been strongly linked with some weeks ago.

However, the English club took cold feet on signing the 26-year-old after pressure from sponsors and fans.

The Pool matches are played during October, December and January 2019, but the fixtures and actual dates will not be confirmed until late next month.

However, if Jackson is fit and has secured the starting 10 position at his new club, he would be expected to make his return to somewhat familiar surrondings at the Sportsground, Galway.

Olding, who has signed for French PROD2 side, Brive, could also face Irish opposition in August.

The French club are due to entertain Connacht in a pre-season friendly on August 11.

In the top tier Heineken European Champions Cup, Ulster were drawn with Scarlets, Racing 92 and Leicester.