Jacob Stockdale had an awful cruel way of letting his family know about his Ireland debut
Cheeky wee pup.
Jacob Stockdale is absolutely flying it. The 21-year-old has started his second full, senior season at Ulster as impressively as he finished his first.
Tries against Treviso and Scarlets - in what was an excellent all-round performance - have eased any worries that he would return complacent after earning two Ireland caps during the summer.
The Lisburn native, who comes from a rugby-mad family, was one of eight uncapped players selected by Joe Schmidt to tour the United States and Japan during the summer. Along with Leinster lock James Ryan, Stockdale took to Test rugby with ease and scored a try on his debut, in New Jersey.
Three further tries - against South Africa and a brace against Argentina - arrived in November's Guinness Series:
What an absolute, absolute, absolute star https://t.co/TMYRqSJKgJ
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) November 25, 2017
The Ulster back did his family proud on the day of his Test debut but, earlier that week, he had them all fooled. He tells SportsJOE:
"I knew what day and time the squad was going to be announced. My mum had been texting me the few days before it going, 'Have you heard? Have you heard?'
"So I thought, 'Right, I must play with her here a bit'. We have a family WhatsApp group so I just sent in, 'Bad news guys'. I didn't say anything else.
"My mum replies with this big essay about how it didn't matter, how I didn't need to be playing for Ireland just yet and how it might have all been a bit much and a bit wee too soon.
"I replied, 'It's alright mum. I actually got picked!' She wasn't too happy for a while but it was all good."
Stockdale still shudders when he thinks of dealing with the reams of information and video analysis footage that Joe Schmidt piles on all his players. He learned so much from Schmidt, he says, and took a lot away from his conversations with assistant coaches [for the tour] Felix Jones and Ronan O'Gara.
"Felix was really helpful, in terms of high balls and getting into the air as a back three getting up in the air. He was really brilliant with that during his career," he says, "It was really great to pick his mind, and understand what it is that I need to be looking at when the ball is in the air.
"ROG is a completely different style. The big part he helped me with was when I was first told I'd be starting against the USA - I was kind of sitting at the side of the pitch and pretending to stretch. Everything was going through my head - 'What if I do this, what if I do that, what if this happened here?'
"ROG came over and said, 'Jacob, you look like you're crapping yourself a bit'.
"I told him I was and he said, 'Don't worry. You know the stuff. You don't realise that you know it but you do'.
"He was right too. Once I got into the training session it was grand and everything went swimmingly."
That final training session before the match went well and, 24 hours later, he Test debut went better again.
*Our full interview with Jacob Stockdale is coming up on The Hard Yards
The Hard Yards
This week: Kev McLaughlin, James Downey & Paul Warwick join Andy and Pat to look ahead to Ireland's series decider Down Under
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