Stockdale: Record in sights of Irish young gun

Cyril Lowe was only 22 when he finished the 1914 Five Nations with eight tries to his name.

Cyril Lowe was only 22 when he finished the 1914 Five Nations with eight tries to his name.

The England flyer ran in hat-tricks against both France and Scotland and also bagged a double against Ireland.

More than 100 years later his achievements stood untouched, no player had managed to score multiple tries in three successive games of this famous old Championship.

But now Jacob Stockdale, a year younger than Lowe at only 21, has burst onto the scene and re-written history.

The Ulster flyer has bagged doubles against Italy, Wales and Scotland to sit on six tries for the Championship with one game to come.

One more try at Twickenham on Saturday would break the NatWest 6 Nations record for a single Championship.

There are hot streaks, and then there is Stockdale. Ten tries in his first eight Tests is better even than the late great Jonah Lomu.

But the devout Stockdale remains modest to the last.

“It’s not a bad start to my international career. I think the ball just keeps popping up in the right areas. I’m getting the rewards for that,” he said.

“To a certain extent, it’s weird to realise I’m at this level now and playing regularly in the Six Nations. If you told me that a year ago, I wouldn’t have believed it.

“On the other hand, I’ve worked really hard to get where I am, putting in good performances for Ulster and Ireland U20s, stuff like that, so I feel like I have built towards it. But I’m pretty pleased at how it has accelerated more than I expected.”

Two intercepts have caught the eye, although he has scored tries from just about everywhere and of every sort already this Championship.

So how does he have this knack of picking off passes?

“To be honest, it’s just instinctive and whenever you get the ball, the next thing in your head is getting to the tryline. It’s more afterwards when you touch down you realise: ‘that could have gone very wrong!’”

Now the goal is win a Grand Slam with Ireland, what would be only the third ever in their history.

Stockdale was only 12 back in 2009 the last time Ireland did it.

“We watched the Wales game with the family – I think my uncle and granddad were there that day as well. The house went crazy,” he recalled.

Breaking the record and winning a Grand Slam would be a pretty perfect way to sign off a breakout Championship for the youngster.

All this is a far cry from the 15-year-old who was stuck in Wallace High School’s 4th XV!

But even if he fails to break the record and Ireland fall short in south west London, there is no doubt that Stockdale has arrived on the international scene – and is here to stay.