Monday 16 September 2019

'We never anticipated that he would be able to do what he does' - Jacob Stockdale's dad on Ireland's prolific winger

Jacob Stockdale of Ireland celebrates after scoring his side's first try during the Guinness Series International match between Ireland and New Zealand at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Jacob Stockdale of Ireland celebrates after scoring his side's first try during the Guinness Series International match between Ireland and New Zealand at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Cormac Byrne

Jacob Stockdale's father and grandfather were in the Aviva Stadium on Saturday to see the Ulster winger score his 12th Ireland try in 14 internationals in spectacular form.

The 22-year-old has taken rugby by storm since his debut on the tour of United States in 2017.

Stockdale was watching at home on TV when Ireland registered their first-ever win over New Zealand, the 40-29 victory in Chicago in 2016 that proved 111 years in the making, but he was in the thick of the action as they took the All Blacks' scalp for the second time.

His second half try proved to be the decisive and his meteoric rise is beyond the expectations of his proud dad, Rev Graham Stockdale.

"I thought that the Grand Slam match against England, we would never top that because that was a very special moment but Saturday went a notch higher," on the BBC's Good Morning Ulster.

"I took my dad down to the match and the two of us were sitting in the VIP seats  with all the players' families around us so there was just incredible high fives, hugging, cheering - just such an outbreak of emotion.

"We never anticipated that Jacob would be able to do what he does in such a short period of time.

"I suppose the key thing is being part of a pretty special team. I think the best Ireland has ever had."

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Stockdale's magical night could all have been so different, had New Zealand captain Kieran Read not knocked on with the line at his mercy.

Ireland's strike-running wing tried an impudent chip over the All Blacks number eight, but Read read it completely and pulled off a dominant charge-down.

However, the 33-year-old bungled the ball in his haste to scoop up and race to a score, letting Stockdale off the hook.

Just minutes later Stockdale latched onto Bundee Aki's bullet pass after the centre switched with Johnny Sexton, before chipping and collecting and dotting down.

Ireland stunned the All Blacks with a classic set play from head coach Joe Schmidt, and Stockdale revealed his delight and relief at winding up as hero instead of zero.

"I was screaming 'drop it!' and he did, so he must have been listening to me," said Stockdale, recounting Read's charge-down.

"Those kind of things are a bit of a risk - sometimes they pay off, sometimes they don't.

"That one didn't and I suppose I got a bit lucky, that's rugby union.

"For the try, I saw that Ben Smith had come up on the outside to defend Rory Best and I saw the space in-behind.

"It was a slightly different kick, more of a longer one to chase onto. For me I was just playing in the moment, you can't think about it when you have the ball in your hands.

"This win means everything. There have been 113 years of guys who have played at Lansdowne Road or the Aviva and have failed to beat them. For me to do that on my first attempt is very special."

And asked if Ireland had shattered New Zealand's aura, Stockdale insisted only time will tell, adding: "I don't know; I guess we'll find out."

Additional reporting by PA

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