RUGBY: Ulster winger Jacob Stockdale just keeps on delivering

Jacob Stockdale of Ulster celebrates after scoring his side's first try with Stuart McCloskey against Wasps in the European Champions Cup
Jacob Stockdale of Ulster celebrates after scoring his side's first try with Stuart McCloskey against Wasps in the European Champions Cup

With five tries in as many games this season, Ulster winger Jacob Stockdale continues to grab all the post match attention.

Back-to-back man of the match awards, the most recent in the European Champions Cup has got even more people talking about the former Wallace High School lad.

Just as he had done a week previously, Stockdale crossed for the try which turned the ‘on’ switch for Ulster.

The Irish Province went on to defeat Wasps 19-9 at Kingspan Stadium and end their opening round hoodoo in Europe.

His try came when had gone behind 9-3, Charles Piutau producing the magic to help put Stockdale away.

Stockdale had already proven himself as a finisher - two minutes later he turned creator, a looping pass when under pressure on the tramline finding Stuart McCloskey’s hands and the centre made no mistake.

You could argue, as we had done a week earlier, that Piutau had been the standout man for Ulster, but he had to once again yield to Stockdale on the man of the match award.

Significantly, Stockdale is now starting ahead of both senior international stars Andrew Trimble and Tommy Bowe - the former not even making the matchday 23 against Wasps.

The young three-quarter made his Irish debut on the summer tour to USA and Japan, and obviously his improving performances are raising expectations that he will add to the two caps come the November Test series when Ireland play South Africa, Fiji and Argentina.

The modest Stockdale, who is paraded regularly now before the post match media continues to keep as low a profile as possible.

“We’ll see how the next couple of weeks goes, I’m hopefully but I just have to keep performing and working hard with Ulster,” was his latest response.

There is no doubt the youngster is a strong beep on Joe Schmidt’s radar but for now his focus is very much on Ulster and enjoying his rugby with his club.

“I’m really enjoying it - that was my first real taste of European Rugby and I’m loving every minute of it,” gushed Stockdale after the win over Wasps.

“It makes it easier when the boys around you are playing really well, there is a great team ethos in the squad now.”

As for the relationship with Piutau, Stockdale said: “To be honest most of the time I just kind of run off him and expect him to make a break.

“I think Charles is a pretty initiative player and has the ability to create something out of nothing so it is just a matter of being on his shoulder.

And on turning provider, Stockdale said: “I wasn’t looking for the ball but it came my way.

“I decided to give a go and see what happens, I was just trying to keep the ball in play and luckily Stu is 6ft 4” so he got above everybody else and finished it really well.”