'It's only a couple of games ago that everyone was saying Jacob is the answer'

Andy Farrell is excited to field his newly-qualified players from the start and hopes to see Jacob Stockdale show his best form at 15.

Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

IRELAND HEAD COACH Andy Farrell is excited at the prospect of James Lowe and Jamison Gibson-Park in an international starting line-up (see the full line-up here). And he remains keen on giving Jacob Stockdale the opportunity to ignite the attack from fullback.

Stockdale’s position came under scrutiny after he was guilty of the highest profile errors during the Six Nations defeat away to France.

It appeared that the head coach was referring to the Ulster star when a general opening statement about his selection included this line:

“Some people have waited for a chance to show what they’re about and others have got another chance. So it’s a good blend.”

Asked specifically if Stockdale would need to deliver a big performance to continue in the 15 shirt – a spot left vacant by Jordan Larmour’s injury, while the uncapped Shane Daly was also out of contention this week – Farrell said:

“Not necessarily. Every individual’s different and you treat them accordingly.

It’s only a couple of games ago that everyone was saying, ‘Jacob is the answer’ et cetera.

“There’s a few things he needed to put right from his last game, but he’s an important player for us and he has the opportunity to go again.”

With Stockdale in a back three alongside Hugo Keenan and the newly-qualified Lowe, there is unquestionably a potent counter-attacking threat from Ireland’s outside backs.

“He brings an extra dimension to how we want to play,” the head coach said of Lowe before quickly pointing that the Nelson native would bring extra competition on Ireland’s wings.

“Hopefully, on top of that, with a good performance at the weekend, he brings another dimension of competition for places in our squad which is very important for us going forward.”

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hugo-keenan-jacob-stockdale-and-james-lowe Keenan, Stockdale and Lowe at training together three weeks ago. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Billy Burns will also hope to make his Ireland debut this week, but it is a first start given to Leinster scrum-half Jamison Gibson-Park that promises most competition to a long-term half-back.

“Jamison gets the opportunity to show how he can handle a full game.

“He’s been coming off the bench and doing well. In training, we’ve been very impressed. Managing a game is something we’re curious to see how he goes, but we’re excited to see him play.

“He’s a little different to the other scrum-halves.”

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Sean Farrell

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