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Thursday Jan 18, 2024

Jacob Stockdale explains the change in his game that earned him an international recall

It’s not been the easiest few years for Jacob Stockdale. Once viewed as one of the greatest wingers in world rugby, a season-ending ankle injury in 2021 and a subsequent lack of form caused his career to veer off the proverbial cliff. 

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Stockdale’s journey to the centre stage of Irish rugby started in 2017, but it was during the 2018 Six Nations that he truly made a significant impact on the international stage. He scored seven tries and was named Player of the Tournament as he played a pivotal role in Ireland’s Grand Slam victory.

However, subsequent challenges such as ankle injuries, a temporary dip in form, and heightened competition for wing positions within the Irish squad have since hindered the 27-year-old’s consistent presence in the national team.

Following a two-year hiatus, Stockdale made a return to the Irish squad during the pre-World Cup warm-up matches against Italy and Samoa. Although he didn’t secure a spot in the final 33-man squad for the tournament, his participation in the build-up games served as a catalyst, reigniting his determination to reclaim a central role within the national team

Speaking recently to the BBC, Stockdale has detailed his return to form and the goals he has now set for himself.

“The experience of playing the pre-season games before the World Cup and remembering how it is to be in that green shirt kind of lit the fire again,” he said.

“It’s been my goal since I got my injury to get back into the Ireland team and I haven’t quite fully achieved it yet, so I’ll keep pushing for it. It was incredibly disappointing not to go to the World Cup but Faz is a good guy. He treats you with respect and he’s honest. That’s all you can really ask for from a coach.”

PARIS, FRANCE – OCTOBER 14: Andy Farrell, Head Coach of Ireland, and Johnny Sexton of Ireland speak to the media in the post match press conference following the Rugby World Cup France 2023 Quarter Final match between Ireland and New Zealand at Stade de France on October 14, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by David Ramos – World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

Continuing to speak about the Ireland coach, Stockdale added: “Andy’s a brilliant people person and I think that kind of filters down through the squad. He’s very well trusted, a brilliant influence on Irish rugby, with a great coaching network around him.”

Farrell recently announced the Ireland squad for the Six Nations which includes the 6 ft 3 in winger. Speaking about the opportunity ahead of him, the now 27-year-old has claimed that he will be “putting my best foot forward, working as hard as I can”.

“I feel like I’m on a good run of form at the moment, just doing the simple things right.” Stockdale said. “I think that’s the biggest thing for me and you get a few opportunities to show what you can do off the back of that.                                                                          

“My goal for the next while is just doing the fundamentals well. My tackle success rate has improved. That has always been a big work-on for me for the majority of my career, just making sure I’m getting in good positions defensively and that makes the tackles that little bit easier.”

Ireland Squad – Guinness Six Nations 2024:

Forwards (19):

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Ryan Baird (Leinster/Dublin University)(15)
Finlay Bealham (Connacht/Buccaneers)(36)
Tadhg Beirne (Munster/Lansdowne)(46)
Jack Conan (Leinster/Old Belvedere)(41)
Caelan Doris (Leinster/St Mary’s College)(36)
Tadhg Furlong (Leinster/Clontarf)(72)
Cian Healy (Leinster/Clontarf)(125)
Iain Henderson (Ulster/Academy)(79)
Ronan Kelleher (Leinster/Lansdowne)(26)
Jeremy Loughman (Munster/Garryowen)(4)
Joe McCarthy (Leinster/Dublin University)(5)
Peter O’Mahony (Munster/Cork Constitution)(101) CAPTAIN
Tom O’Toole (Ulster/Ballynahinch)(12)
Andrew Porter (Leinster/UCD)(59)
James Ryan (Leinster/UCD)(59)
Dan Sheehan (Leinster/Lansdowne)(21)
Tom Stewart (Ulster/Ballynahinch)(2)
Nick Timoney (Ulster/Banbridge)(3)
Josh van der Flier (Leinster/UCD)(57)

Backs (15):

Bundee Aki (Connacht/Galwegians)(52)
Harry Byrne (Leinster/UCD)(2)
Craig Casey (Munster/Shannon)(13)
Jack Crowley (Munster/Cork Constitution)(9)
Ciaran Frawley (Leinster/UCD)(1)
Jamison Gibson-Park (Leinster)(30)
Robbie Henshaw (Leinster/Buccaneers)
Hugo Keenan (Leinster/UCD)(36)
Jordan Larmour (Leinster/St Mary’s College)(30)
James Lowe (Leinster)(26)
Stuart McCloskey (Ulster/Bangor)(15)
Conor Murray (Munster/Garryowen)(112)
Calvin Nash (Munster/Young Munster)(1)
Garry Ringrose (Leinster/UCD)(57)
Jacob Stockdale (Ulster/Lurgan)(37)

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