Friday 20 September 2019

Stockdale relishing the chance to link up with 'electric' Larmour again

Jacob Stockdale: ‘Schools’ reunion. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Jacob Stockdale: ‘Schools’ reunion. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

The last time Jacob Stockdale and Jordan Larmour started a game together was in Poland at an under-age tournament four years ago.

They have both come a long way since then and tomorrow, in the rather more illustrious surrounds of Solider Field, they will provide supporters with a glimpse into what the Ireland back-three will soon look like.

Between Stockdale and Larmour, Ireland have as much x-factor as they have had for years, and the most exciting aspect of it all is that this is just the beginning.

Stockdale, who is a year older at 22, is further along in terms of his development but Larmour is being used more often by Leinster this season and being handed his first start by Joe Schmidt is another sign of his rapid progress.

That same Ireland U-18 schools team also included Andrew Porter and to think how far along the trio are at such a young age offers plenty of hope for a bright future.

"I haven't played an awful lot with Jordan, just glimpses of him at 13 and me on the wing, like at the end of the England game in the Six Nations - he's come off the bench a wee bit," Stockdale said at Ireland's team hotel in Chicago.

"Actually, we were the two wingers on our U-18 schools team, so we were.

"Jordan played a year up, he was like 16 or something, and I was on the other wing.

International Rugby Newsletter

Rugby insights and commentary from our renowned journalists like Neil Francis, Will Slattery, Alan Quinlan & Cian Tracey.

"It was the FIRA (Rugby Europe) competition in Poznan in Poland. I scored a fair few that day but I can't remember if he scored any, although I can remember being really impressed with him.

"He was 16 and tearing it up, I remember thinking that he was a guy that was going to be one for the future.

"Jordan's got that electric footwork and he's every defender's nightmare one-on-one, so it will be good to link up with him against the Italians."

Coming off the back of a stunning season last year, Stockdale's progress was halted by a hamstring injury.

Since his return to action last month however, the Ulster flyer has picked up where he left off and has already run in three tries in his three games.

Stockdale's strike-rate is ludicrously good for someone so young and having made such a big impact in the Grand Slam and the successful summer series win in Australia, the challenge is to build on that.

"This time last year I was just trying to bust the door open for myself a wee bit," he admitted.

"I kind of achieved that last season and now I'm a genuine competitor for the starting position and I just want to put my name in the hat as much as I can.

"I want to make sure I don't give the coaches any excuses not to pick me. This is the perfect opportunity to do that, a Test match away from home against a Six Nations rival. It's good to test yourself in these situations.

"I'm feeling good. I rehabbed the hammy and it feels pretty good, so I'm just eager to get going with this Ireland team and get stuck into the internationals.

"Coming back into the Ulster games, I felt I was moving really well, felt fit and strong, so I was really happy with that because you never know when you're doing the fitness by yourself if you're up to the match standard.

"The first game, there's that slight worry about, 'is my hammy going to be all right' but it was grand."

As for the small matter of bettering last season, in which he set a new Six Nations record by scoring seven tries, he is already dreaming of surpassing it.

"Eight (tries) in the Six Nations maybe, but I haven't set a target just yet," he smiled.

With the form he is in, you wouldn't back against it.

Irish Independent

The Left Wing: Ireland's fullback dilemma, World Cup bonding and the squad standby list

Also in Sport