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More touches, more influence for Stockdale from fullback

The Ireland wing has been getting test runs at 15 for his province.

Stockdale runs into contact on an attack from fullback on Sunday.
Stockdale runs into contact on an attack from fullback on Sunday.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

TO DATE, JACOB Stockdale has started six times for Ulster at fullback. But attack coach Dwayne Peel is keen to see plenty more of the Ireland star there.

Stockdale scored just his second Ulster try of the season on the first matchday back after shutdown. Following two starts at 15 against Harlequins in December, it was his third start at fullback in the current campaign.

Though Stockdale performed in the role as an U20 international, his senior career has predominantly been played on the left wing. There, he has proven himself a prolific try-scorer with 16 tries for Ireland. His 28th for Ulster came on a cutting line as he broke onto a Billy Burns skip pass on Sunday.

“He’s got a lot of footballing ability in him,” Peel said yesterday as Ulster launched their Stand Up Together campaign.

Peel believes that Stockdale footballing ability on top of his aerial prowess wll serve him well whenever Ulster need him to move in off the wing to fullback.

“In terms of a rugby player, he’s not just a pure athlete, he’s got a lot of rugby in him. As you saw at the weekend, some of his kicking from full-back – he’s got a big boot on him – and his distribution as well.

“Getting him on the ball as much as we can for us is important.

He’s obviously a talented player, we want him on the ball as much as we can, and, at present, with a few injuries we have, full-back really suits him. He’s really keen as well to explore.

“I like him at full-back, and equally on the wing. But he’s a real asset at full-back because of his size and his running ability, but also his kicking ability as well, he’s got a good left foot that can come into play for us.”

With Will Addison’s back still keeping him sidelined and Rob Lyttle adding another wing to Dan McFarland’s list of available players this weekend, Stockdale could well be back for a fourth start at 15 this season.

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northern-ireland-ulster-riugby-ireland-irfu-john-dickson-dicksondigital-kingspan Kingspan and Ulster Rugby encourage supporters to #StandUpTogether with special edition jersey Source: John Dickson

Both second row Alan O’Connor and James Hume suffered concussions in the loss to Connacht on Sunday. The young centre is unlikely to feature against Leinster on Saturday. Relative veteran Luke Marshall is also out of contention with Addison, so the elusive running threat of Stewart Moore could well be thrust into the midfield a week out from the Pro14 semi-final.

The just-turned 21-year-old is an exciting talent and had been vying neck and neck with Hume through pre-season.

stewart-moore-celebrates-scoring-a-try Moore celebrating his sensational U20 try against Australia last summer. Source: Pablo Gasparini/INPHO

“They’ve been class,” said Stuart McCloskey about the pair last week, “it’s been great having them in training the last few weeks.

“They offer that bit of youthful exuberance that me and Lukey are probably lacking these days…

“Stewart, he’s that Henry Slade sort of player where he can bounce out of tackles with his sidesteps. 

“It’s really pushing me and Lukey on and, I’d say, there’ll be a lot of pressure there if not now then certainly in the next five or six months.”

About the author:

Sean Farrell

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