Monday 23 September 2019

'I'm very proud of him and I'm very glad he's on my team' - Ulster boss Dan McFarland defends Jacob Stockdale

Heineken Champions Cup Quarter-Final, Aviva Stadium, Dublin 30/3/2019
Ulster's Jacob Stockdale dejected after the game Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland
Heineken Champions Cup Quarter-Final, Aviva Stadium, Dublin 30/3/2019 Ulster's Jacob Stockdale dejected after the game Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Independent.ie Sportsdesk

Ulster head coach Dan McFarland has rallied to Jacob Stockdale's defence after pundits hit out at the winger's failure to score his side's second try of the game at the Aviva Stadium.

The Ireland star showed his trademark skill, pace and power to smash his way through three attempted tackles and cross the line at the start of the second half but, attempting to ground the ball with one hand, lost his grip and knocked it on.

Former Ulster player Steven Ferris and ex-Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll agreed that it was the turning point in a thrilling European quarter-final as Leinster went on to overturn the 13-11 deficit to win 21-18.

When asked what his views on the game's turning point was, Ulster coach Dan McFarland said: "I know what you want me to say but I won't say it. There are not too many people who can get past three players and get in the position to score that try.

"That's not the reason why we lost that game.

"I'm not dwelling on that. I'm very proud of him and I'm very glad he's on my team."

McFarland said the reaction in the changing room was one of 'desperate disappointment'.

"It's a disappointed changing room," he said. "There are a lot of heads down in there, myself included.

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"We didn't deserve to win, we didn't win, that's the bottom line. It was in our hands to squeeze a bit harder - there were a few aerial battles we didn't win and a few kicks we didn't pull off. We didn't impose ourselves to get enough scores."McFarland said the reaction in the changing room was one of 'desperate disappointment'.

"It's a disappointed changing room," he said. "There are a lot of heads down in there, myself included.

"We didn't deserve to win, we didn't win, that's the bottom line. It was in our hands to squeeze a bit harder - there were a few aerial battles we didn't win and a few kicks we didn't pull off. We didn't impose ourselves to get enough scores."

Ulster lost captain Rory Best to injury after just 16 minutes. His injury is due to be assessed in the next 48 hours.

"Rory touched on it in the changing room, we have a very young squad and a lot of guys haven't been in this kind of play-off rugby," said Iain Henderson. "It's great for them to get this in their first year of professional rugby, it's something they build on. This is something they'll use to drive themselves on for the next few weeks.

"The likes of Rory Best and Darren Cave are revitalised by the young guys coming in. It's a massive freshen up on weeks where things aren't going your way, the young guys are adding energy in every aspect. I feel we have a strong group of players and with the age profile that'll help us going forward."

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