Ireland captain Rory Best believes Paddy Jackson can seize the opportunity presented to him by Jonathan Sexton's unfortunate withdrawal from the tour to South Africa.

Sexton has already gone under the knife to rectify a shoulder injury suffered for Leinster in last Saturday's Pro12 final defeat in Edinburgh, leaving Ulster out-half Jackson the front-runner to start the first Test in Newlands in nine days' time.

The loss of Sexton, one of the most senior figures in a squad that was already without key players like Sean O'Brien, Peter O'Mahony and Cian Healy, will be keenly felt, but Best is confident that time spent in close quarters with the Leinster No 10 has left Jackson ideally placed to compensate for his absence.

"I've talked a lot about how much he's learned from Johnny, and the way he conducts himself around Ulster is learned from how Johnny conducts himself in this environment," Best told RTÉ Sport.

"He knows the plays and he runs the plays and he has confidence in that.

"It's a big opportunity for him, there's no doubt. It's a big shirt to fill, with what Johnny has done for Ireland and Leinster, but it's an opportunity for Jacko to come in and put his own slant on it.

"He's surrounded by people that he knows, he's been involved in a lot of camps and played a few tests. He has the confidence of the group, there's no doubt.

"It's an opportunity for him to come in and continue the form he showed at the end of the season for Ulster."