As Tommy Bowe career winds down, a fellow Ulster player has emerged as the future of one of the Irish wings: Jacob Stockdale's stunning rise to eminence has continued throughout the Six Nations, with his try-scoring record now standing at a scorching eight tries in seven Tests.
His defence, however, has received some criticism, to which Tommy Bowe has responded strongly. Speaking to Balls, Bowe attributed Stockdale's defensive struggles to unfamiliarity with the Irish defensive system along with the constant chopping and changing at outside-centre: this weekend he will play alongside a different 13 for the third-straight game, with Garry Ringrose the stricken Chris Farrell who filled the breach in place of Robbie Henshaw.
He’s gone really well. Attacking-wise, he’s been super. He is full of confidence: the way he went around that Italian full-back in the second game shows how confident he is. It’s such a step-up going into the Six Nations, but I think he can offer more. He has so much potential.
He’s 21. He has come into a new system that the likes of Keith and Rob have been working on for the last couple of years. It’s not something that you just pick up straightaway, and it’s different to the defensive system we use in Ulster.
Also, it’s big-time reliant on the guys inside you. If they don’t do their jobs, you can get caught out. On the whole, I’ve been impressed by him and he’s only going to get better. I reckon he is a strong defender, and it’s a case of getting comfortable in the defensive system that Ireland play.
Each 13 defends that little bit differently, whether they shoot out of the line or hold off a small bit. It’s all about trying to read what that guy does and it’s not easy. Jacob is such a young guy, but he has eight tries in seven matches and while he is getting a bit of criticism for his defence, I’m sure he will rise above it. Credit to him.
Bowe, meanwhile, admits that it "kills" him to maintain a watching brief during the Six Nations.
It still kills me watching it. I’ve got to realise I’m probably not playing at that level at the moment, I’ve only played two games since coming back from injury.
With Jacob and Keith Earls playing so well, I can only be impressed with the standard they are playing with. Of course I’d love to be part of it, but I have to be realistic.
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