Belfast Telegraph

Stockdale eager to move on and put Japan disappointment behind him

Confident: Ulster’s Jacob Stockdale
Confident: Ulster’s Jacob Stockdale

By Michael Sadlier

Jacob Stockdale is determined to make the record read three wins from three visits when Ulster go to Bath for Saturday’s opening round of pool games in the Heineken Champions Cup.

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The province have won on both previous European occasions they have played at Bath’s ground and Stockdale is intending to keep the sequence going by contributing to another special occasion for Ulster.

“Bath has some pretty good memories for Ulster and I’m hoping that we go over this week and continue that.

“I remember watching Nevin Spence going in at the corner (in December 2010) and doing the front-flip dive thing that he did,” the 23-year-old star winger said.

Ulster also won when playing at The Recreation Ground the previous season when Andrew Trimble scored a stunning solo try and, counting the two games the sides have also played at Kingspan Stadium, the province have never lost to the English Premiership team."We're in a pretty good place and it's now about getting excited about the big games coming up," added the 23-year-old, who played his first game for Ulster this season after returning from the World Cup in the 22-16 Guinness PRO14 defeat at Munster.

"(Bath) are really good, especially at home, so I think we do have to keep stepping up performances, but I think it's something we're well capable of.

"The buzz of Champions Cup rugby never leaves you, and the enjoyment of playing in these games keeps you carrying through no matter how many caps you have," added Stockdale.

The Ireland winger's return to club colours proved to be a challenging enough evening last weekend in Limerick as he moves on from the disappointment of being in Japan.

"It was pretty difficult starting back and going straight into an interpro (against Munster), and it was a tough game but I wouldn't have wanted it any other way," he said.

"It was a difficult one (game) to get into, especially for a winger.

"It's frustrating when you look at a game we controlled and then we let it slip.

"At the same time it bodes well for moving forward into Europe," stated Stockdale.

The 25-times capped international had a frustrating World Cup and failed to add to his 16 international tries, his experience pretty much mirroring the overall sense of under-achievement which saw Joe Schmidt's side tamely bow out again at the quarter-final stages.

"Obviously it was a bit disappointing how it ended, and it didn't go the way I wanted to for myself, and for the team, but it was a good learning experience and something I'll never forget," he said.

Being away from home for that length of time also wasn't easy, but Stockdale preferred to put the emphasis on remaining optimistic in the wake of the national side crashing out to New Zealand without really firing a shot.

"Looking back at the tournament as a whole, you have to take the positives from it, and the fact that I got that opportunity to play at a higher level than I ever have before, and figure out what works for me in terms of getting myself into the right frame of mind and playing well.

"(It was) probably something I hadn't really learnt as much beforehand so it was good to get that experience.

"But now I'm excited to be back playing with Ulster and going into two big games in Europe," he said of going to Bath and then facing Clermont at home.

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