Ireland’s Jacob Stockdale in rush to make mark in Ireland record books

first_img Pinterest Eddie Jones revels in being ‘under the pump’ as England face Ireland test Read more … we have a small favour to ask. More people, like you, are reading and supporting the Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many news organisations, we made the choice to keep our reporting open for all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay.The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We hope you will consider supporting us today. We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism that’s open and independent. Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Scotland target victory in Italy and Six Nations third place Support The Guardian Stockdale is from a rugby family; his father had played for Ballyclare, like his father before him. His mother had wanted him to play the piano but they say Jacob’s granddad tucked a ball in his crib before the boy could even walk and that was that.Stockdale’s father is a reverend who works one job as the chaplain at a hospice and another as the chaplain at a prison. His boy shares his father’s faith and has a cross tattooed on his arm, each point marked by an initial. His mother hated it until he explained what the letters stood for. J and G for his parents, H and L for his sisters. Read more Reuse this content Share on LinkedIn Share on Facebook Ireland rugby union team Since you’re here… Jacob Stockdale remembers well the first time he saw Ireland play live but then it was not so long ago. His father took him to watch a World Cup warmup against England at the Aviva Stadium in August 2011. Ireland were torn apart by Manu Tuilagi and lost 20-9. A lot of the men Stockdale is sharing a dressing room with now played in that match: Rory Best, Johnny Sexton, Conor Murray, Keith Earls and Cian Healy. Stockdale is so young his formative memories are his team-mates’ yesterdays. The 21-year-old is embarrassed to admit it but his heroes when he was a kid were a couple of guys he is playing with at Ulster: Andrew Trimble and Tommy Bowe.Stockdale has been making a lot of headlines lately. He is on a hot streak and has scored 10 tries in his first eight Tests for Ireland. He made his debut in the summer of 2017 and scored his first try 14 minutes into his first match, against the USA, a fine finish from 20 metres. He got another against South Africa on his home debut in the autumn (“That Stockdale,” said Jean de Villiers, “you’ve got yourselves a player there”) and two more against Argentina in the match after that. In this Six Nations he has scored two against Italy, two against Wales and two against Scotland. Six Nations Topics features Facebook Six Nations 2018 Twitter Share on WhatsApp Rugby union Share on Twitter Share on Pinterest He made his debut for Ulster in 2016 and spoke then about how all he wanted to do was nail down his place. “I have a lot of aspirations for my career and I don’t want to be 24 or 25 and not starting for my club team.” But his progress has overtaken his ambition. He was a key part, along with Porter and Ryan, of the Ireland team who made the final of the Under-20 World Championship in 2016. England won 45-21 but two years later it is the Irish players from that match who have forced their way into Test rugby. Winning is one thing, bringing the players through is another.Stockdale was a centre at school and a full-back for the under-20s, so he has more skill than a lot of the big wings around and is comfortable passing off both hands. There have been a lot of questions about his defence, though. Luke Fitzgerald picked out Stockdale’s weakness there in the matches against France and Ireland, where he was caught out once by Teddy Thomas and then again by Gareth Davies. Stockdale says it is something he is working on. At the rate he is going it will not be long until he has fixed that, too. By the time the World Cup comes around he is going to be a hell of a player in a hell of a team. Share via Email Which makes him the first player in more than 100 years to have scored multiple tries in three consecutive championship matches. One more against England on Saturday and Stockdale will break the record for the most scored in a Six Nations campaign. He is the hottest of the bunch of talented greenhorns who have joined this Irish team. Since the last World Cup Joe Schmidt has given debuts to 15 players who are 24 or under. The Six Nations title is not all Schmidt has achieved this spring; he has also folded a lot of his best young players into the mix of a winning team.A handful of these guys are already shaping up to be key members of the World Cup squad in 2019. Stockdale is one, there is also the prop Andrew Porter and the lock James Ryan, the flankers Dan Leavy and Josh van der Flier, the centre Garry Ringrose and the fly-half Joey Carbery. Schmidt has managed to give them game time in big matches without compromising the shape, style or strength of his side in the short term. It is a difficult trick to pull off but in the long run it is the difference between building a strong first XV and a squad with the strength in depth to contend in a World Cup.Stockdale is unusual in that he came through so late. When he was 15 he was stuck in Wallace high school’s fourth XV and his dream was making the first team. He almost gave up on that because he was so small but a late growth spurt (he put on eight inches in a couple of years) and the support of his school coach, Derek Suffern, kept him playing. Since then life seems to have happened in a rush. Soon enough he was the Ulster Schools’ player of the year and brought into the Irish Schools team and the Ulster Academy. Jacob Stockdale is set to be a key player in Ireland’s 2019 World Cup squad. 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