Jacob Stockdale is struggling to explain why he keeps getting the bounce of the ball. ‘I honestly don’t know,’ is the answer. ‘It hasn’t always bounced nicely for me.’
You could describe his chip and chase against England as flukey, helped by a massive in-goal area at Twickenham. He claimed he got lucky against the All Blacksafter that deft chip over the onrushing defence.
There comes a time when it can’t just be down to luck, however. His latest effort during Ulster’s win over Racing 92 was greeted by gasps of disbelief among the Ravenhill crowd. Utilising his trademark chip off his left boot, Stockdale managed to regather possession on the hoof despite the presence of three chasing defenders.
‘To be honest I think a big part of it is the quality of the kick we try to put in,’ he explains.
‘If we get that nice angle on the bounce there is only really one way it can go. It can either go up or it can go straight rather than left or right. So that’s a big part of it. And I probably have got lucky in a couple of games I suppose. So to answer your question I don’t really know.’ Stockdale is very much a believer in the old mantra of, ‘the harder I work, the luckier I get.’ There have been countless hours on the training pitch under the watchful eye of Joe Schmidt and skills coach Richie Murphy honing those skills.