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'Everyone has really bought into it' - Jacob Stockdale excited by new Ireland regime under Farrell

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Jacob Stockdale. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Jacob Stockdale. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Jacob Stockdale. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Jacob Stockdale is relieved to be back in a green jersey. The World Cup didn't go his way, but he's keen to move on and excited by the winds of change around Irish rugby.

The team may look similar to the one that lost to New Zealand in October, but the voices guiding them are slightly different.

And, while there has been little time to put together a new strategy, the Ulster winger believes Ireland's attacking game will be more dangerous than it was a year ago as Mike Catt makes his mark.

"Catty is pretty great, he is very enthusiastic and he likes guys to have a bit of fun," he said.

"At the same time, he wants to make sure everybody trains as best they can and is switched on for training which is pretty much all you can really ask from a coach.

"During the Six Nations, you're probably going to see a bit of a change in our attack. I'm not going to give too much away now. But we're looking a bit more fluid and there is a bit more licence to play which is obviously exciting for us."

Stockdale only worked with Joe Schmidt for two seasons, but he says there is a sense of freshness about Andy Farrell's training sessions.

"Our training has definitely changed a wee bit," he said. "Like from this week I've noticed a lot more skills focus, like we're integrating skills into each of our gym sessions which is really exciting and quite similar to what we do at Ulster. So it's kind of nice to get that synergy there.

"The atmosphere in camp this week has been really good. And I think that's partially down to what Faz has brought. He obviously wants to create a really inclusive environment.

"I think it's also down to the players. Everyone has really bought into it and are just excited to get moving forward.

"Faz has come in and brought a lot of very different approaches to what Joe (Schmidt) would have," he said.

"When you come in and things are different and things are new you feel like everything is kind of starting from scratch again which is exciting."

Excitement is a long way from what Stockdale felt the last time he wore a green jersey. By his own admission, he didn't have a good World Cup and he was worried about his place coming into camp. Now, he's determined to move on.

"Yeah I think so," Stockdale said when asked if he felt relieved. "Obviously, you don't want to be dwelling on things that were a good while ago.

"The World Cup was three or four months ago now and obviously as a player you want to keep moving forward and focusing on how you're playing week to week.

"Which is kind of what I think I did post-World Cup. I got back into the swing of things pretty quickly for Ulster.

Phenomenally

"The squad - particularly in the back three - is probably the most competitive it's ever been. There are a lot of guys who have been playing phenomenally well.

"I'm just kind of grateful to be given the opportunity to pull on an Ireland jersey. I wouldn't say it's necessarily forgetting about it. It's just about not dwelling on it. I think they are two quite different things.

"I accept I didn't have a World Cup. I didn't really enjoy the World Cup in a rugby sense. It was pretty disappointing. You just have to park that and say 'That's not me, I'm not defined by that. I'm defined by how I move forward.'

"Coming in to camp it's very different now. With new management, new styles, they've really tried to shake everything up and it feels completely different."

The good vibes will only last a week if they don't perform on Saturday, but if Stockdale's enthusiasm is anything to go by there's reason to be optimistic about what Ireland can achieve.

Irish Independent


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