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Jacob Stockdale: Rory Best helped drag me out of 'dark place' after mistake against Leinster

Ulster's Jacob Stockdale was supported by his team-mates after the game.
Ulster's Jacob Stockdale was supported by his team-mates after the game.

Ulster winger Jacob Stockdale has admitted that he was in a 'dark place' after his missed try-scoring opportunity against Leinster.

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The Ireland star, of course, dropped the ball as he looked to put Ulster 18-11 ahead at the start of the second half in the European Champions Cup quarter-final.

It was a moment that would go on to be branded 'unforgivable' by former Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll but those surrounding Stockdale didn't agree.

Public support flowed in from supporters and from Ulster Head Coach Dan McFarland, who said he was 'proud' of the 23-year-old immediately after the game.

Now Stockdale has revealed that Ulster captain Rory Best played a typically leading role in helping him overcome the error.

"Besty was really important," he told the BBC. "He just put an arm around me and said 'you had a really good game and that one moment is not going to define you' and I think that was probably something that I needed to hear at that point.

"Afterwards in the changing room I asked Besty if I could take a minute to say to the lads because I wanted to apologise to them as well because they worked incredibly hard to get there and to not be in a semi-final.

"So I started to speak and, I think Besty said it, it turned into the House of Commons with everyone (telling me to sit down). So that was really nice to have their support and it just showed me how close-knit a team we are."

Such support was echoed from some of Stockdale's Ireland team-mates within the Leinster camp and, given the magnitude of the moment as Ulster went on to lose the game 21-18, it was support that was gratefully received.

"It was really important for me because I was in a pretty dark place and I was really upset so it was good to have that," he said.

"If I get that ball down it's a one-try or two-try game and we're looking pretty comfortable and all of a sudden I drop it and Leinster get back into the game.

"I just felt that I had to (apologise) and I realised that we had an incredible amount of support there and that a lot of people had paid a lot of money to come down and watch us and made a lot of effort and so I felt like I had to say sorry that they weren't getting to enjoy a semi-final."

Stockdale's grounding technique, attempting to place the ball on the turf with one hand rather than sliding over the try-line, was called into question and he says the whole episode has been a harsh lesson.

He said: "I'm learning every time I step onto the pitch and some lessons are easy to learn and some are harder to learn and unfortunately this was one of the hard ones."

There's more from Jacob Stockdale on that missed try in tomorrow's Belfast Telegraph.

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