Thursday 5 December 2019

McFarland has faith in 'improving' Stockdale

Ulster's Jacob Stockdale. Photo: Sportsfile
Ulster's Jacob Stockdale. Photo: Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Seven games without a try for club or country, Jacob Stockdale hasn't endured too many barren runs like this. Having scored for fun last season, the Midas touch has deserted the winger of late as he goes in search of his first try of this season.

The World Cup didn't go according to plan, which prompted the suggestion that opposition teams had figured out how to nullify Stockdale's threat.

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Still only 23, it is now up to the Ulster man to figure out how to counteract that. His head coach doesn't doubt that he will figure out a way to do so.

"I know, from my point of view, when you look at the threat on an opposition team in the same way as Bill Belichick (New England Patriots head coach) would plan for opposition, like his defence will always look and say, 'what is their number-one threat'," says Ulster coach Dan McFarland.

"Well, let's deal with that first and worry about everything else after. Jacob would be a huge threat in any team he played in and as opposition coaches you have a game plan for that.

"We have got to do a good job of making sure he gets the ball. We have not done that as often as we could in the games he has played for us so far. Conditions have been a little bit of a part of that. As we move along we will certainly get him the ball more."

Stockdale's match-winning intervention to secure a Champions Cup win over Bath a fortnight ago will certainly help boost his confidence.

"It was huge, he has to feel good about that," McFarland said.

"People have to remember that Jacob is a really young fella and he has not been playing for his country that long.

"He is talked about like the number one, automatic choice for Ireland as if this is something that has been going on for the last five or 10 years - well it is not. He is still developing."

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