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Prolific Stockdale stays in the moment to produce sublime chip kick

The 22-year-old bounced back from nearly giving up a try to producing Ireland’s winning score.

BLOCKED DOWN BY Kieran Read less than four minutes before, Jacob Stockdale backed his skills again to produce a chip kick that helped Ireland to down the All Blacks.

The 22-year-old’s second effort at the chip was much more successful and underlined the belief he has in himself, the kind of inner confidence that has contributed towards him scoring 12 tries in his first 14 Tests for Ireland.

Jacob Stockdale scores a try despite Damian McKenzie and Aaron Smith Tommy Dickson's sublime photo of the Stockdale try. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

He came close to handing the Kiwis a score when Read blocked him down, but Stockdale rebounded in inimitable style.

“I was thinking, ‘Drop it!’ and he did, so he must have been listening to me,” said Stockdale of the first chip attempt.

“Those kind of things are a bit of a risk. Sometimes they pay off, sometimes they don’t. The other one didn’t pay off. I suppose I got a bit lucky, that’s rugby union.

“For the try, I saw that Ben Smith had come up on the outside to defend Rory Best and I saw the space in behind.

“It was a slightly different kick, a longer kick to chase onto. I was just playing in the moment. You can’t think about that kind of thing whenever you put a ball down.

“Richie Murphy, the Ireland kicking coach, has been fantastic,” continued Stockdale.

“He is always talking about how much of a difference those chips and those grubbers down the line can make, especially if you keep them between the 15-metre line and the touchline. 

“He’s been super, in terms of making my kicking skills better.” 

Jacob Stockdale celebrates at the final whistle Stockdale has become a key player for Ireland in a short space of time. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Stockdale’s finishing prowess was underlined by the manner in which he rapidly altered direction when the ball bounced to his right in behind the Kiwis, his reflexes demonstrating why he always seems to be in the right place at the right time.

The Ulsterman is already Ireland’s 15th highest try-scorer and he looks certain to push higher up the list sooner rather than later. 

Saturday was his first game against the All Blacks at senior level and his memories of Ireland’s win over the Kiwis in Chicago in 2016 underline how far he has come in a short space of time.

“I was still in the Ulster academy at that point and had barely played for them,” said Stockdale, who watched the 2016 game at home on TV.

“I had played a couple of games for Ulster so it was more me as a fan watching Ireland beat the All Blacks. It was incredible to actually be a part of it this time and it is really special.”

For young players like Stockdale, James Ryan and Jordan Larmour, the exceptional has quickly become the norm in Ireland jerseys but they can appreciate just how special Saturday was.

“It means everything,” said Stockdale. “There’s 113 years of guys who have played in Lansdowne Road or the Aviva and have failed to beat them, so for me to beat them at my first attempt is pretty special.”

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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