RUGBY: Ulster winger Jacob Stockdale thriving in current environment

Ulster's Jacob Stockdale scores against Connacht
Ulster's Jacob Stockdale scores against Connacht

Jacob Stockdale has started four Guinness PRO14 games for Ulster this season and scored four tries.

The latest touchdown against Connacht proved decisive in Friday night’s Irish derby at Kingspan Stadium and is also an early contender for try of the season.

Stockdale benefitted from some wizardy from Charles Piutau to finish off the try which helped Ulster to the 16-8 win.

Stockdale said:“The advantage of having an All Black (Charles Piutau) beside you is that he’s always going to be in support when you try to make the break.

“I saw the hole and went for it and Charles was there to give me a hand and put me in.

“If you see an opportunity then you go for it and the coaches are never going to have a crack.

“There are times where you need to be smart or safe with the ball, and they’ll tell you that, but if you feel you have an opportunity, that’s why we’re able to attack from deep and have a crack because the coaches have a ‘let’s have a go and see what happens’ mentality, and that’s really exciting, especially as a back three player.”

Stockdale is benefitting from playing regularly with Ulster’s southern hemisphere duo Christian Leali’ifano and Piutau.

“They’ve both come from Super Rugby where it’s all fast flowing and if you see an opportunity you take it,” said the summer capped Irish international.

“I think that’s really starting to rub off on me and the other players, they’re really enthusiastic about attacking from anywhere and it’s pretty exciting.”

Ulster now turn their attention to Europe and face former Heineken Cup champions Wasps in the opening pool game on Friday night.

“There’s no better test to see if you’re ready or not than an interpro,” said Stockdale.

“There’s probably a few areas we can and we need to step it up, that being said we showed an awful lot of grit and determination, especially in the last three minutes to not let them score a try and we’re going to bring that into Wasps.

“Wasps are a different animal, a very difficult team, but we feel we have the beating of them.”

Stockdale made his Ireland debut against the USA on the summer tour and despite his rich vein of try scoring form he knows nothing is guaranteed for the autumn internationals.

“There’s still an awful lot of rugby to be played, we’ve got the two massive European games up next and then Leinster after that so my focus is very firmly on Ulster right now and trying to play as best as I can for them.

“I try my best to play the best I can every week and if that comes on the end of it then brilliant, but if not then I’ve got stuff to work on and I’ve just got to play the best I can.”

Stockdale wants to add to his caps collection but has been given some works ons by Ireland coach Joe Schmidt.

“It was brilliant to be part of that set-up, to get to push myself more and more at a higher level You’re always trying to make everything better, but that’s just me!”

as a player, the main thing was defensively Joe wanted to see me being more assertive and I think I’m starting to do that. It’s not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, so I’m still working.”.