Stockdale sits it out as Ulster eye bonus
Jacob Stockdale is a man in a hurry so when Les Kiss tapped him on the shoulder this week to indicate that he would be on the bench against Treviso, he had to slow down and take stock.
Although he has scored seven tries in just 11 appearances for the province - leaving him just one behind Scottish star Tommy Seymour in the scoring charts, the 20-year-old can't barge his way into Ulster's stellar back three this week. He comes of age, 21, next month and swallowing his pride marks another stepping stone in his growing maturity.
"It does get frustrating when you're sitting a game out but you have to look at it from a team perspective not a personal perspective," he shrugs. "If that's what the coaches are doing, that's the way I have to do.
"There is an extensive plan for every player and it is all about making sure there is nobody getting burned out so some weeks I will not play but I understand it is not through form."
Even Tommy Bowe can't make the 22, compounding his Irish exile, as Craig Gilroy occupies the number 15 shirt to allow Jared Payne a possible Six Nations warm-up in midfield, while Charles Piutau and Andrew Trimble man the flanks.
And while Garry Ringrose, ironically a potential loser in Payne's return to full fitness, has praised the Kiwi's defensive lessons, Stockdale has learned just as much from the maestro's attacking nous.
"He has been real quality in terms of my development, especially in terms of teaching me about where to find space on the field," he adds.
If Stockdale had his way, the former schools' star would be eyeing the 13 jersey for himself, now that he has decided to fully commit having momentarily questioned his position in the grand scheme of things last summer.
"I'm happy that I have decided to keep sticking it out here," he admits. "I wasn't completely sure at start of season, especially with the fact there are so many good players ahead of me.
"But I've made 11 appearances which shows the faith the coaches have in me. Long-term, I would love to play at 13, I really enjoyed the space I had there in school."
The rescheduled game with Zebre next week could mark a fifth successive five-point haul for the in-form side.
"We have been talking about the need for bonus points, absolutely," reveals Stockdale. "We want to get into the play-offs, otherwise we have nothing in the last three weeks off the season to play for. And then, if we make them, we want to win the title."
Ulster - C Gilroy; A Trimble, J Payne, S Olding, C Piutau; P Nelson, R Pienaar; C Black, R Herring (capt), W Herbst; K Treadwell, F van der Merwe; R Wilson, S Reidy, M Coetzee. Reps: J Andrew, A Warwick, R Lutton, P Browne, C Ross, P Marshall, L Marshall, J Stockdale.
Benetton Treviso - L Sperandio; A Esposito, T Iannone, M Tagicakibau, A Buondonno; I McKinley, T Tebaldi; F Zani, L Bigi, T Pasquali; T Paulo, D Budd (capt), M Lazzaroni, F Minto, R Barbieri. Reps: R Santamaria, R Acosta, M Zanusso, F Gerosa, G Zanini, G Bronzini, A Sgarbi, A Pratichetti.
Ref - D Jones (WRU)
Ulster v Benetton Treviso,
Live, BBC2, 7.35