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'He's a strong character': Jacob Stockdale will bounce back after Leinster error, says Ulster team-mate Luke Marshall



Costly error: Jacob Stockdale

Costly error: Jacob Stockdale

Costly error: Jacob Stockdale

Returning Ulster centre Luke Marshall has jumped to the defence of team-mate Jacob Stockdale.

Stockdale dropped a would-be try in his side's 21-18 Champions Cup quarter-final defeat to rivals Leinster on Saturday, a big moment in the game that drew plenty of criticism from pundits.

The province's star player and crowd favourite addressed the side's fanbase yesterday. "I just want to say I am sorry," he said. "I let you down, the support we had was truly amazing and you deserve to be looking forward to a semi-final.

"Sport can be cruel and sometimes you have to learn your lessons the hard way."

Marshall, though, said no such apologies were required.

"We win as a team we lose as a team, there's no individual to blame, definitely not," said Marshall, who scored a try from the bench in his first rugby for 10 months. "He wanted to speak to us for a wee bit. He should have scored and he's disappointed."

Marshall added that few players could have got themselves in the position to score the try in the first place.

“You look how he got in position to score that, there’s not too many guys in Europe would have been in the position to score. He’s done a lot for us, we wouldn’t be here without him.”

The moment brought back memories of Bath’s Freddie Burns earlier in the tournament who began celebrating before dotting down against Toulouse only for Maxime Medard to chase back and dislodge the ball.

Burns, brother of Ulster out-half Billy, also offered his support to Stockdale yesterday and Marshall is sure the 23-year-old will bounce back quickly.

“When it happens to another team, you’re thinking what an eejit,” Marshall said.

“But some players, they play with flair and Jacob is one of them.

“You look back to the All Blacks in November, he makes a mistake there, they nearly score. In the next play, he makes an unbelievable score that not many people would be able to do.

“He’ll bounce back quickly, he’s a strong character. Everyone knows how good he is. He’ll be fine.”

Marshall’s return could have been fairytale stuff when he got over in the 65th minute but defeat made things bittersweet.

“It’s great getting back out on the pitch and great getting back on such a big occasion, obviously the other side of it is that we did not complete the task and are out of the competition now,” he said. “I’m pretty pleased to get back fit, but wish it could have been in a different fashion.”

Belfast Telegraph