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Friday 27 January 2023 Dublin: 3°C
Ryan Byrne/INPHO Listen up: I'm in better form now than I was in 2018.
# winging it
Jacob Stockdale: ‘I am playing a lot better now than I performed in 2018’
Ireland wing says he is not worried by his try-scoring drought.

JACOB STOCKDALE INSISTED today that his barren spell of six games without a try for Ireland is not a concern.

In fact, he went one step further, claiming his form in this year’s Six Nations is better than what he showed in the 2018 championship, when he scored seven tries en route to helping Ireland win a grand slam.

Since then, his scoring rate has slowed considerably. From getting 11 tries in his opening nine internationals, Stockdale has since scored five in his last 18 games for Ireland.

“To be honest I am playing better rugby now than in 2018,” Stockdale said. “I am enjoying myself a lot more, am a lot more solid defensively and feel I am getting my hands on the ball a lot more than I did in the 2018 Six Nations.

“It just happens that the tries are not coming my way. Every winger knows you are going to experience dry spots, times when you don’t get the walk-ins that, as a winger, you feed off. I am really happy where my game is at the moment.”

Yet, like all players, happiness is relative. Striving for perfection is part of their DNA.

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“We still have a lot to work on. We are definitely getting there. It is not a matter of finding our feet any more because we are playing well. But we want to keep getting better and push to reach the very top,” he said.

Conor Murray is thinking the same way. Like Stockdale, he too is on a dry run – going a year and 10 games since getting his last try for Ireland.

“It doesn’t bother me,” he said. “For me, setting a fella up for a score, getting an assist, is just as pleasing. Those opportunities, try scoring chances haven’t been there as much. If tries come my way then great, it is not really my role.

“I’d much rather it going well that way than by scoring tries for myself but the other parts of my game not functioning. Right now, I’m really happy with where I am at.”

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