RUGBY COMMENT: Jacob Stockdale continues to grab the headlines

Doing what he does best, scoring tries - Jacob Stockdale

Jacob Stockdale is the one everyone has been talking about since the start of the new season.

And Ireland coach Joe Schmidt is the latest who cannot deny the in-form Ulster winger another opportunity in the green jersey.

Stockdale emerged as a talented young star in the Ulster colours last season.

Now he is keeping the likes of seasoned international wingers such as Andrew Trimble and Tommy Bowe out of the starting Ulster side.

His call-up to the National side for the summer tour of USA and Japan was richly deserved and he took his opportunities, winning two caps and scoring on his debut - it’s the thing of dreams.

But Stockdale has backed himself since the start of the new season.

There is a level of maturity to the 21-year-old’s attitude and approach to things with Ulster.

“I have got to keep working for Ulster, that is where I have to show what I can do,” he told a recent post-match Press Conference.

There were regular questions about the prospects of an Irish call-up for the upcoming Nonmember Guinness Test series - but he refused to be drawn in or get carried away.

He simply did what he said he would do - work hard at his game with Ulster and take on board the tips he had been given from both his Provincial coaching team and of course Ireland boss Schmidt.

It has paid off for the former Wallace High School pupil who has been scoring tries for fun with Ulster this season.

It has paid off, Stockdale will be given the opportunity to add to his two caps from the summer when Ireland take on South Africa, Fiji and Argentina next month.

With Munster’s Simon Zebo departing at the end of the season - and not included in the 38-man squad named by Schmidt yesterday - this is Stockdale opportunity to do what he has done at Ulster, begin to make an Irish jersey his own and follow in the footsteps of Trimble and Bowe.

Ulster and Ireland captain, Rory Best, knows too well that Schmidt is a stickler for things being done right and while, in Irish terms, Stockdale is still a rookie, the skipper knows it is hard to ignore form.

“You cannot deny the form that he has been in,” says Rory Best, who highlighted Stockdale has already displayed traits of the highest calibre.

“The big thing for Jacob has been to do one really good season, go on a summer tour and people know what you’re about to continue that form and to work hard in that you keep improving.

“Ultimately that is the difference between a top international player and guys who come in a handful of times and are in and out of squads.

“The top players are always striving to be better, they’re the ones you see out doing extras at the end.

“We have seen a lot of that with Jacob and the way he turned up at the start of pre-season, the way he was during pre-season, he was looked in pretty good shape and it was no surprise to me the way he started the season in an Ulster shirt.”

“I’m sure there will be intricacies in his game that Joe will not be happy with, and that he’ll want to improve on, but that’s the next step for him as well, just improve on anything. But you cannot deny the form he’s in.”

Along with Best and Stockdale, fellow Ulster players Rob Herring, Iain Henderson, Kieran Treadwell and Stuart McCloskey were included in the Irish panel.

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