Sean McMahon reporting from Yokohama.
Jacob Stockdale is happy to prove his critics wrong after he produced an excellent display in Ireland’s 27-3 win over Scotland in Pool A of the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
Stockdale has been criticised on occasion for his defensive performances, most recently in Ireland’s record defeat to England at Twickenham as part of their warm-up series.
In that game, the Ulster winger made some poor reads out wide but it must also be said that poor decisions made inside him put him in a disadvantageous position.
“My defence is something that has been talked about quite a bit and it was good to actually get a few good shots on Stuart Hogg,” Stockdale said. “It was good to get a good, solid defensive performance in.”
Many of the Irish players will speak about ‘the bubble’ i.e. the environment within the Irish camp where they completely focus on themselves and avoid listening to outside noise from the media.
However, Stockdale admits that he does, in fact, seek out comments about his performances so that he can use them as motivation to prove people wrong.
“We hear everything, you know? We see everything. It’s just one of those things. If you have a bad defensive day then people say you can’t defend. You have a bad attacking game and people say you’re not ruthless in attack.
“That’s just part of sport. I kind of liked it whenever people slagged me off because then I get to prove them wrong. That’s kind of my mantra. Proving wrong and proving right is what I try to live by.”
As a team, the squad wanted to prove people wrong after that England performance.
“Yeah, definitely. The England game didn’t reflect what we are like as a team at all and that was really disappointing for us. We’ve turned around now and beaten Wales back-to-back and beaten Scotland in our first game. I’m not saying that we are world beaters now but we are going in the right direction and going nicely.”
Much was written about how Ireland’s new back-three of Stockdale, Andrew Conway and Jordan Larmour would perform against Scotland’s experienced backs. However, any worries that Rob Kearney and Keith Earls’ absence would prove costly were unfounded as the starting trio produced an excellent and assured display.
“I thought Jordan was brilliant. He is a seriously dangerous player and he showed that. He also showed his really good back field coverage and Andrew Conway on the other wing looked really dangerous as well.
“It’s good to have lads like that that can fit in seamlessly and whenever Rob and Earlsy get back they are other strings to our bow and serious strength in depth. I don’t know who will be playing now but it is just good to have a group of guys performing well.”