Ulster Rugby v Dragons


Having recently returned from Ireland’s summer tour of the USA and Japan, where he earned his first international caps, Jacob quickly settled back into the Ulster camp and was named in the starting lineup against both Treviso and the Scarlets. We took a moment to chat to Jacob on his whirlwind year and the opportunity to play rugby at international level.

“Looking back on the last year, it has been absolutely phenomenal, from the opportunity to further develop with Ulster and then to be selected for Ireland is incredible and I have loved every single minute of it. “The Irish starting team was named after our second training session together so I was still learning the calls when finding out that I was going to be starting against the USA – it was incredibly exciting but also nerve-racking.

and the skills required of a winger have changed. Nowadays you have to be an all-rounder, you can’t just be the fast guy who can score tries so that’s what I’m trying to become, a better all rounder.” The recent changes to the Ulster coaching structure have seen a greater emphasis on the involvement of the whole squad rather than the match day 23, with the view of creating a more cohesive approach and providing greater encouragement for all members of the squad.

Thankfully I was able to set the nerves aside and just focus on my rugby.

“Ulster is blessed with some of the most exciting backs in European rugby and it’s good to be in the mix with guys like Charles (Piutau), Andrew (Trimble), Tommy (Bowe) and Craig (Gilroy) who challenge you to continually push yourself and step up. I’m a strong believer in the notion that competition breeds success. We all try to push each other as hard as we can in training so that when

JACOB STOCKDALE “As a result of the opportunity to train with and represent Ireland on tour, I feel a better player and more like a leader in the Ulster team rather than someone

trying to catch up. Joe Schmidt is a brilliant coach, I took a lot from him, as well as from Ronan O’Gara and Felix Jones.” Having been given the

opportunity to play for Ireland in Japan, Stockdale now has the hunger to return when the Rugby World Cup visits in 2019. “Being part of the international setup and getting to put on the green jersey is something really special, something that when you get it, you want it again and again. Japan was an awesome place to go and I would love to have the opportunity to travel again with the Ireland squad, which is why I’ve been working really hard to improve my game. “Everyone has got weaknesses to their game and Joe suggested that I should focus on improving my defence so that was the focus for me during the pre-season. Rugby has evolved over the years

it gets to the game it feels easier. No game is a breeze but the strong competition and support network helps get you through it. “The game last Friday against the Scarlets really demonstrates how important the whole team are, with guys like John Andrew coming on and scoring a try in the 76th minute, you are able to see the impact our subs made. When they came on they really raised the tempo of the game. As a player, whether you’re starting or on the bench, you know you’re still an integral part of the squad. Success or failure does not come down to any one individual but rests on the effort of the whole squad.”



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