Leinster’s breakout star has undoubtedly been Ronan Kelleher and the hooker could well be in line for an Ireland call-up for the 2020 Guinness Six Nations – according to teammate Cian Healy.
The 21-year-old is the second top try scorer in the Guinness PRO14 so far this season with six as well as another score to his tally in Europe.
The St Michael’s man has profited from the injury absence of Ireland internationals James Tracy and Sean Cronin.
And with Rory Best now retired, Ireland’s new head coach Andy Farrell has a big decision on his hands over the No.2 jersey.
And Ireland and Lions prop Healy thinks Kelleher is definitely in the conversation.
“I’m sure he has put himself on the radar with his performances so far. Everyone gets looked at in these windows and coaches have been at all the games so far,” he said.
“If he keeps his feet on the ground and going as well as he is, his is going exceptionally well.
“I’m not surprised [by how well he has done], but I hadn’t seen a lot of him before.
“He’s going exceptionally well and is a great prospect for us
“To see him step up to the bigger stage and perform so well has been brilliant. He’s been chomping at the bit in training and it’s good to see that transfer into big games.
“He’s a very good scrummager and has the technical side of that down. His physical size and strength he has shown; he can hold his own. He’s going exceptionally well and is a great prospect for us.”
🏉@JacobStockdale says he’s “excited to prove people wrong” over his defensive game.
— BBC SPORT NI (@BBCSPORTNI) December 2, 2019
Staying in Ireland, and Jacob Stockdale is back in European action for Ulster this weekend eager to build on his burgeoning defensive capabilities.
The winger’s last gasp interception denied Bath at the Rec last month, and the youngster admits it is a part of his game he is working on intensively.
“That tackle meant a lot to me – I’ve been working very hard on defence over the last two years,” Stockdale added.
“To see the fruits of it now is really rewarding.”
He said: “I’m known for scoring tries and not saving them too often so it was nice to showcase my skills in that sense.
“You are always going to think criticism is a bit unfair. I’m excited to prove people wrong and that’s what I try to do every day.”