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Why Ireland coaches need to protect Jacob Stockdale from himself

It's high time Ireland's coaching staff came up with structure to suit a maverick of the game

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Big test: Jacob Stockdale shows his frustration against France

Big test: Jacob Stockdale shows his frustration against France

�INPHO/Dave Winter

Big test: Jacob Stockdale shows his frustration against France

March 30, 2019: It is minutes after the final whistle in the Aviva Stadium. The noise coming from the Leinster changing room tells you the home team are in yet another European semi-final. Their seventh from 2009. The only noise in the Ulster camp down the corridor is the clatter of boots being taken off. Well, that and the sobbing of Jacob Stockdale.

In a cracking game of rugby, where the consensus was Ulster had left it behind them, the most prominent piece in that lost luggage had been Stockdale's failure to score in his favourite corner. The one where he helped Ireland over the line against the All Blacks in 2018, the year he won Player of the Tournament with seven tries in Ireland's Grand Slam season.

He had done the hard part - very well, as it happens - but then lost the plot with the easy bit. Offered the open door of falling over the line for a try that would have put Ulster seven points clear, with the prospect of the conversion making it a two-score game, he tried to pick the lock by dotting the ball down. Under pressure from Dave Kearney the ball went forward. Game over.


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