Stockdale claims top player award
Jacob Stockdale has revealed that previous Grand Slam winners Rory Best and Rob Kearney played a key role in motivating the Ireland players ahead of their success at Twickenham last weekend.
The 21-year-old, who set a new Six Nations record by scoring seven tries, was yesterday announced as the player of the championship, after seeing off competition from team-mates Conor Murray, Johnny Sexton and Keith Earls.
It capped a sensational debut tournament for the winger who, despite playing all but six minutes of Ireland's historic Grand Slam campaign, is straight back into action for Ulster against Cardiff this afternoon.
"As soon as you do one goal, the goal changes - you want to do something else," Stockdale said, speaking exclusively to the Irish Independent.
"For me, it's about getting better and better every time I go out on the pitch, which means that I don't have any bother getting motivated for my next game.
"It was something that the older guys had said to me, particularly Rob and Rory. They said, 'You don't realise how rare these (Grand Slams) come about. Just because you have won one in your first attempt, don't take it for granted - really try and appreciate it. Celebrate it and enjoy every single aspect of it'.
"So I tried to do that as best I could. We knew we had an opportunity to do something special - something that hadn't been done too many times before.
"That message that we really needed a big performance to be able to make history and that was definitely hammered home to us.
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"I have always been very goal-driven. I'm lucky that playing in the Six Nations came earlier than expected."
Ulster could ill-afford not to play Stockdale in Wales today and he admitted that he was more than happy to line out for his home province as they look to salvage their season.
"To be honest, the hardest part is just trying to remember all the Ulster calls again," he added.
"The Ireland calls are just battered into your head so much over the last couple of months that it is hard to switch back.
"But I don't need any motivation to play for Ulster. It's where I grew up.
"It's the team I have always watched and I played for Ulster before I played for Ireland so I don't think I'll have a problem in terms of motivation."