Six Nations: Ireland have unearthed a diamond in Jacob Stockdale
Ireland have unearthed a diamond in Ulster wing Stockdale, who continues to score tries for fun.
The Lisburn native - now living in Lurgan - and a former Wallace High School pupil has written himself into the record books since breaking onto the Irish senior side less than a year ago.
The 21-year-old was only 12 when Ireland last won their Grand Slam - and now the youngster can become a part of rugby immortality if Ireland defeat England at Twickenham on Saturday and claim their third Grand Slam in 70 years.
Ireland clinched their fourth championship in 10 years with a 28-8 win over Scotland on Saturday - and Stockdale was grabbing some of the headlines again.
A try double against the Scots made it six in this season’s tournament and it saw him become only the second player, after Englishman Cyril Lowe, to score multiple tries in three consecutive Four, Five or Six Nations championship games.
Stockdale has an eye for the intercept - his opener against Scotland and his second against Wales came from those - and he already looks a runaway choice as the Six Nations player of the tournament.
He will almost certainly be the tournament’s top try scorer - his nearest challengers to his six are on three apiece, namely Scotland’s Huw Jones, England’s Jonny May and France’s Teddy Thomas.
Stockdale has established himself as a fixture in head coach Joe Schmidt’s first choice XV as soon as he has broken into it.
His ability to mix power running with unerring finishing has proved invaluable to Ireland’s title march, as has his uncanny aptitude for the interception.
A win over England on Saturday will give Ireland a clean sweep of all before them, something that has only been achieved twice since Ireland last did it in 2009.
For Stockdale to add a Triple Crown and a Grand Slam to the Championship medal he will receive on Saturday after the game will be something many have only dreamed off over the years.