Tuesday 31 January 2023 Dublin: 9°C
Dan Sheridan/INPHO
# Mixed Bag
Schmidt: 'Stockdale showed some impressive aspects but was a bit hesitant defensively at times'
Two-try Jacob Stockdale won’t be getting ahead of himself on Joe Schmidt’s watch.

Gavan Casey reports from the Aviva Stadium

JOE SCHMIDT WAS left frustrated by Ireland’s 28-19 victory over Argentina at the Aviva Stadium as his side went three-and-zip in the November series.

CJ Stander all but completed the job for the hosts with Ireland’s third try after Jacob Stockdale got the ball rolling with two fine scores, bringing his tally to four crossings in as many international Tests.

Even the 21-year-old’s copy wasn’t without its blots, however, in the eyes of a head coach who watched the Pumas finish the stronger of the two sides.

Speaking at Ireland’s press conference following the victory, Schmidt bemoaned Ireland’s concession of second-half scores while admitting his charges had done well to take a commanding lead in the tie.

“I was disappointed when they scored the last two tries in the fixture,” he said.

“The two tries they got late in the game: both were frustrating.

“But the way we built our way into the game was very satisfying – really good set play try. There were certainly plenty of good elements until that time.

It’s a mixed bag because they generally tend to be mixed bags but I never mind a mixed bag when you’ve got a nice, comfortable nine-point margin after they’ve scored at the end.

“They are a really good team, will continue to get more competitive. Some of the young backs – Montoya as well was searingly quick.

As for Ireland’ two-try hero and man of the match on the day, Schmidt was reticent to go overboard in his praise.

Stockdale might well lord Ireland’s left wing for an entire era, but even in scoring a scintillating brace, he left plenty of room for improvement as Schmidt perceived it.

“He’s a kid who’s learning fast and willing to learn,” Ireland’s coach said of the Ulsterman.

He’s got some great athleticism, very big power and he’s a young lad. He finished that second try really impressively, because it wasn’t just the flat line, it was the fact he could arc around someone as impressive as [Joaquín] Tuculet.

“So there were some impressive aspects but at the same time he was a little bit hesitant defensively at times, and trying to win the aerial battles were a battle for him.

“He’ll get some real confidence from it I hope, but also he’ll get motivation to try to improve on what he delivered tonight.

Schmidt continued: “I’m delighted that he’s had the chance in Japan and the way he’s building.

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“It’s a position where he’s a natural left-footer, he put in a great left-foot kick early in the second-half to carve up a bit of territory, and I think there are many aspects of his game that can help us, so it’s a position that we cast the net.

I thought Darren Sweetnam did really well last week: his run down the touchline where he bashed through a few men. And his late entry into South Africa where he managed to get to a Joey Carbery crossfield kick that really contributed to the Stockdale try on the other side of the pitch.

“So that’s what we want, we want people working for each other, so that others get opportunity.”

Jacob Stockdale after the game Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Asked how proud he was of his fellow Ulster star, Ireland captain Rory Best, too, did his best to quell any proclamations of superstardom where Stockdale is concerned.

“He’s a quality player and what’s impressed from last year to this is how he keeps on improving,” said Best.

“If he keeps learning and stays grounded, there’s a bright future for him, in a tough position. There’s no doubt he’s done really, really well, but he’s benefited from the players he plays with as well.”

Schmidt, too, suggested Stockdale got by with a little help from his friends, singling out Rob Kearney for helping to steer the youngster through his fourth cap: “One of the best things about this group is I feel the experienced players helping the younger players through.

“You want people feeding off each other, a bit of youth and athleticism.”

He later added that he had taken a risk in starting Chris Farrell at 13 given Robbie Henshaw had been earmarked for the shirt as late as Wednesday, but that the 24-year-old Belfast man had a “super, super game.”

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Stockdale shines again as Ireland put away Pumas

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