Jacob Stockdale On The Interesting Differences Between Playing At Fullback & On The Wing

Fifteen.

Ireland international Jacob Stockdale has made a serious name for himself in recent years on the wing for both Ireland and Ulster.

The prolific try-scorer has been banging in scores for fun, dotting down 16 times for Ireland in just 28 games and 27 times in just 59 games for his province.

But before the break, the northern province began to use him more and more at fullback, with the 24-year-old lining out there as recently as last week against Connacht as part of rugby’s return in Ireland.

So how do the two positions differ? According to Stockdale, fitness is a big one.

“I think to be honest the big difference I find in the two roles is probably the fitness aspect of it,” Stockdale said.

“You know at fullback you do a good bit more running than the wing and you just have to be a bit more switched on all of the time which is something I really enjoy about the position. I like being involved in the game as much as I can and sometimes I feel like I maybe don’t get as much action on the wing as I would like.

“There’s a number of differences between the two positions. Most back three players should, to be honest, switch between them. That being said, there are a lot of brilliant wingers who have never played fullback mainly because they were better wingers than I am!”

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With Rob Kearney’s time in an Irish jersey now all but over, Leinster’s Jordan Larmour has become Ireland’s first-choice fullback but is Stockdale interested in lining out at fifteen for his country?

“It’s not something me and Faz [Andy Farrell] have really talked about, to be honest,” Stockdale told us.

Obviously there’s already a number of really good fullbacks in Ireland. There’s definitely stiff competition in that sense. Yeah look, it’s something I’m keen to do, not because I have a real dying desire to play fullback but more because I think it will make me a better player all-round.

“I’m a strong believer in versatility creates a better player because you understand what they players around you want whenever you’re playing in that position. You look at someone like Will Addison who can drop into 13, drop into fullback and play on the wing, like he played plenty of times on the wing for Sale.

“That’s made Will a really well-rounded player who understands the game really well. From that point of view, I’m definitely keen to play a bit of fullback this year and get that experience on the pitch.

And he’s got an excellent to coach to learn from in former Ulster and Ireland fullback Jared Payne.

“Yeah me and Payno would talk about the backfield and how it’s gone pretty much every session,” Stockdale added.

He’s definitely a good source of knowledge for, you know, the tricks of the trade I guess, kind of like figuring out on when you don’t need to run to that space because you don’t need to cover it.

“It’s been really helpful having Jared there just to go through my role at 15 and being able to learn off him.”

What do you think? Would you like to see more of Stockdale at fullback?