Paddy Jackson has said people “don’t understand” what he’s been through, following the Belfast rape trial.
Earlier this year, the Ulster rugby player and his teammate Stuart Olding were at the centre of a highly-publicised rape trial – but in the end, both men were acquitted in June 2016.
Both players had their Ulster contracts revoked in April this year following an IRFU and Ulster review, but Paddy has since secured a two-year contract with Top 14 side Perpignan in France.
Speaking about life since the trial, Paddy told the Irish Independent, “It’s been difficult but it’s something that me and my family have just had to get used to. You only can really understand if you have been in my shoes or my family’s shoes.”
“It’s something you get used to. You stick together and you help each other.”
He continued, “I have come out somewhere where people know about it but they are all respectful and understanding about it.
“They have helped me in training to get into the lifestyle here. I have just been focusing on playing here.”
Paddy also responded to comments made by David Nucifora, the IRFU performance director, who said he wouldn’t rule out Paddy and Stuart returning to Ireland in the future.
He said, “I saw the comments but I just take everything as it comes now. There is no point getting too worked up over anything. I am just loving being here and trying to just fit in as much as I can. I am just glad to be back playing.”
“I have somewhere where I have friends and family coming over to visit. It’s a lovely climate. Everything for me, it’s about enjoying where I am. It’s just all been about rugby and getting back enjoying life. That is all I have been thinking about really,” he added.