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08th Nov 2020

“I don’t see any point in going out onto a pitch and saying, ‘Yeah, I’m probably the worst player here’”

Patrick McCarry

Jacob Stockdale

“For me it is anywhere on the pitch. If a coach says, ‘Jacob we need you play 12 this week’, I’ll give it a go.”

For Jacob Stockdale, he gets to live out his insecurities and confidence issues in front of us all. That is his lot as a leading player with this Ireland team.

Stockdale was decent against Italy (excellent in attack vs. not so much in defence) but his defensive errors against France stuck him front and centre – with a bit of room made for Johnny Sexton – when the public and pundits focused on the negatives.

Stockdale has admitted that he should have flopped on the ball when he fumbled a Vincent Rattez grubber kick but he has had questions to answer over his role in France’s first and third tries. “It was probably a fair enough point that maybe I could realise that we’re in trouble here and I could get on my bike a wee bit early,” the Ulster star admitted of his role in Romain Ntamack’s try.

With James Lowe and Keith Earls now in contention for the Autumn Nations Cup, Stockdale is up against stiffer competition for a spot in the starting XV.

The reality is, Stockdale was set to play left wing against Italy and France until Jordan Larmour dislocated his shoulder. He was given a new brief when Larmour was ruled out but did little to nail down his position. 15 seems like his best shot of starting against Wales, though, but he insists he won’t be banging down Andy Farrell’s door about it.

“Yeah, look, I feel like I do [feel like I should continue at 15]. I might not necessarily go to Faz and tell him. I think Faz is the head coach and he has a plan for the team, and whatever he decides to go with that’s what he feels is best for the team, I’m not gong to argue with that.

“So, yeah, obviously I’d like the opportunity to play 15 again, I really enjoy it but at the end of the day it’s up to him.”

Ambassador Jacob Stockdale has launched Maxol’s annual charity Christmas fundraiser for Aware. Ireland’s leading family-owned forecourt and convenience retailer is planning to raise more than €70,000 for the mental health charity over the next eight weeks.

During a round-table chat with Stockdale (over Zoom), I put it to Stockdale that he reminded me of Stephen Ferris. The former Ulster, Ireland and Lions flanker always came across as self-confident and assured in his abilities.

Asked if Stockdale’s similar traits, when talking about himself and his game, could wrongly be construed as cockiness by some, he replied:

“It’s something I have never really thought about to be honest, which is a bad thing, maybe.

“As a rugby player and a professional sportsman you have to be confident in your own ability. I don’t see any point in going out onto a pitch and saying, ‘Yeah I am probably the worst player here’. I don’t think that is something that breeds success.

“Maybe when I talk about me being a good rugby player people don’t like it and it comes across as cocky or arrogant but that is me being honest.

“No matter how much people tell me I am not good – as long as I am still being picked by coaches and they are saying ‘I still believe in you’ – I am going to believe that I am good enough to play at this level. That is the long and the short of it really.

“I get if I haven’t played well, and I haven’t played well on the weekend, and people are still hearing me say ‘I am still a good player’ that it might get a bit annoying.”

It has been suggested here that Stockdale might have to settle for a finisher role on the Ireland replacements’ bench, for the Wales game and possibly beyond. The Lisburn native is dead-set on being involved in the Irish backline, and has no qualms about what the jersey number is.

“It is a mentality I probably learned from Charles Piutau,” Stockdale explains. “He was a guy who came over and everyone was like, ‘Oh is he going play full-back or wing?’. He said to the coaches ‘I’ll play anywhere you want me to play, just throw me on the pitch and I’ll give it a go’. It is a good mentality to have.

“You learn more about yourself and more about rugby in general than just playing the same position for 10 years. I enjoy playing full-back but I will go on the pitch wherever they want me to go.”



Season 3 has returned with Ian Madigan & Eimear Considine as hosts. You can catch up on all our episodes from past seasons and interviews with Conrad Smith, Victor Matfield, Simon Zebo, Jacob Stockdale, Drew Mitchell, Jean De Villiers, Finn Russell, Mike Brown, Brian O’Driscoll, Tana Umaga and much, much more.

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