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'30,000 more people than I've ever played in front of before, a bit of a change-up'

Back on the big stage, Jacob Stockdale is determined to hit his marks from the start.

Sean O’Brien makes his way on to the field for his 50th cap Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

THE BRIGHT LIGHTS, the big blood-thirsty boys opposite, the hundred thousand eyes…

Even the most experienced internationals get nervous at the prospect of running out for a sold-out Test match in packed stadium - many to the point of puking – so Jacob Stockdale needn’t be concerned about taking some time to adapt for his home debut at the Aviva Stadium a fortnight ago.

Jacob Stockdale Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

The prolific Ulster man has been in exceptional form this season with five tries in his six starts on provincial duty.

However, delighting the Kingspan Stadium and living up to the Aviva’s expectations are two very different beasts. He did both, after a bit of settling in.

“The South Africa game was the first time I’ve played at the Aviva,” says the 21-year-old while thinking back n the peaks and troughs of the experience. The troughs were early, the peaks were a climaxing crescendo that turned a mere loss into an embarrassment for the ‘Boks.

“30,000 more people than I’ve ever played in front of before. So it was a bit of a change-up. I maybe felt that I had to feel my way into the game more than I’d usually like to.

That being said, hopefully (against) Argentina I’ll be used to everything that comes with an Irish game at home.”

He certainly looked perfectly at ease with his surrounds by the time he scored Ireland’s brilliant fourth try in the corner.

Sometimes, settling in is just a matter for the clock, but for Stockdale’s it was a case of finding opportunities to put his stamp on the game.

Jacob Stockdale tackles Dillyn Leyds Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

In the 68th minute, Dillyn Leyds was the unfortunate victim of Stockdale’s frustration at being a peripheral player in the contest. And from then on, he wasn’t.

“That was kind of a big turning point in the game for me and off the back of that I had a couple of involvements in a row and it really helped me to get into the game.

“But that being said I didn’t feel like I was out of the game at any point, I think from the first whistle I was switched on, I was concentrating and I got a few touches early on, which helped.

“I was pretty, maybe not chilled out, but I tried to keep myself calm because it’s the kind of thing you can’t control. You can control what you do and if the ball comes you control what you do with it. But you can’t control where the ball goes and if you get opportunities or not.

“I wasn’t really that worried in the first half, at the  same time I was glad for a few more involvements in the second half.”

‘Involvements’ is Stockdale’s modest way of saying that, after forcing a turnover with his tackle, he broke the line on the resulting set play to create the try that opened the floodgates for a record 38 – 3 win.

Jacob Stockdale makes a break past Francois Louw Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

For his second run-out on Lansdowne Road, Stockdale is intent on sticking to the same formula, with a little more familiarity in his surroundings to help him hit the ground running.

“I just have to do everything I can right. Against South Africa, I didn’t really get much opportunity with the ball, but anything I did, I did well.

“I think it’s the same against Argentina, I’ve done my prep, I know them inside out and I know what I’m doing. So it’s just down to the game and if the opportunities come I’ve to take them.”

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