Jacob Stockdale: Ireland winger excited for start of Six Nations Championship - it’s certainly not boring

Ireland and Ulster winger, Jacob Stockdale
Ireland and Ulster winger, Jacob Stockdale

Scoring tries at every turnaround it is hard to believe young Ireland and Ulster winger Jacob Stockdale is just embarking on his second Six Nations Championship.

The former Wallace High School pupil’s debut was not bad.

As Ireland clinched their third ever Grand Slam Championship Stockdale, with seven, set a record for tries in one tournament in the Six Nations era.

He was one short of the all-time record, set in the Five Nations by England’s Cyril Lowe in 1914 and Scotland’s Ian Smith in 1925.

To cap that he was also named as player of the tournament.

The 22-year-old has remained grounded, however, and his rich try scoring vein continued with Ireland during last November’s Test series, including scoring the crucial try which helped the Irish to a first ever home success over New Zealand in Dublin.

With seven tries in eight games with Ulster this season, he is maintaining his averages well - and he currently is leading try scorer in the European Champions Cup, something he shares with Irish team-mate and Leinster hooker Sean Cronin.

With comments about Ireland being boring coming from the England camp ahead of this weekend’s Championship opener at the Aviva Stadium, Stockdale said he certainly would not say they were boring.

“To be honest, I’m incredibly excited about getting stuck into the Six Nations again.

“We did pretty well the last time around, so the boys are excited about getting stuck into another campaign.

“I don’t think we will worry ourselves too much about being boring.”

Ireland scored 22 tries during the November Test series, and Stockdale added: “Obviously, the November series went well. We had some huge performances.

“We were really happy with where we were then. You know, we’ve been apart now for two months. We’re into a new campaign

“The challenge is getting back into the swing of things, getting back together.

“We’re looking pretty good, pretty sharp in training.

“We’re very excited about it and, hopefully, the fans will be as well.”

And back to that boring tag, Stockdale said: “Joe (Schmidt) talks about being excellent in every small thing that you do.

“That doesn’t happen by accident. We train really well and we try to keep that accuracy in training, so that when it comes into the game, we hold onto the ball

“Eventually, if you hold onto the ball, teams are going to make mistakes in defence. That’s where the opportunities come from.

“That is part of the game plan, is to be really accurate in everything we do and build pressure off the back of it.”

With all the hype around him at the backend of last season, Stockdale had to keep himself grounded, particuarly being so young.

“It was more of a challenge that I expected it to be,” the Newtownstewart (Tyrone) born man said.

“All of a sudden, people are taking photos of you or with you in the street and there are paparazzi outside the hotel, which was very strange to me. I wasn’t a massive fan of it, to be honest.

“It’s pretty easy to easy to keep your feet on the ground because professional sport moves on so quickly.

“If you hand around and get too caught up in what you’ve done, you can be left behind.

“Exactly a week after we won the Grand Slam I was playing away in Cardiff for Ulster (in the PRO14) - and we lost.

“It’s a pretty good way of getting your feet back on the ground. So I don’t find it too difficult.”

Expectations are high for Ireland to repeat their feats of last year, particuarly having also beaten Australia down under for the first time in a Test Series and that win over the World Champion All Blacks in November.

As for his expectations, Stockdale said: “I am not expecting to score eight tries this year.

“For me, it is just about train the best that I can so that I can play the best I can.

“Whenever you are performing well the tries come off the back of that.

“That is my main focus, making sure I do everything during the week to allow me to perform well at the weekend.”