Six Nations Player of the Tournament Jacob Stockdale talks embarrassing moments, try-scoring celebrations and animal facts

Downtime with Ulster and Ireland wing Jacob Stockdale

What’s the funniest thing you’ve seen on the pitch?

Against Edinburgh last season I got my shorts and boxers pulled down in a tackle. Luckily I kept the front up but my bum was on show for a good ten seconds on BBC2, so I wasn’t too happy about that. One of my housemates had it as his profile pic on Facebook for a bit!

Who are the team jokers?

In the Ulster squad it’s Craig Gilroy. He likes to do practical jokes. They’re pretty standard, like jumping out and scaring boys, but he does it pretty regularly.

In the Ireland squad, John Ryan is good craic. He’s a funny guy.

What are your bugbears?

People using my stuff without asking. My housemates – I live with three guys from the Ulster Academy – are terrible for that. It really annoys me but they don’t seem to care. There’s stuff I’ve cleaned and they use it. It’s petty, I know.

What about phobias?

I hate anything to do with eyes and people touching their eyes.

Who would you like to be stuck in a lift with?

Can it be someone who’s dead? Johnny Cash. I’m a massive fan and would love to have met him.

Johnny Cash

Music man: Johnny Cash playing in 1960 in Nashville (Getty Images)

He could give you a private concert…

I’d have to make sure I brought a guitar with me. I really like the song A Boy Named Sue – I would be singing along.

I can play the guitar, although not particularly well. I taught myself when I was 14 and play when I get the chance.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

Probably to be able to fly. That would be fun. I’d head somewhere very, very warm.

Do you have any superstitions?

I wouldn’t say I had superstitions but I have rituals. I don’t think I’ll have a bad game if I don’t do them, it’s just the way I get ready. I always clean my boots on the day of a game, and I tape my wrist and write on it before I go out. I always write the initials of my family as they’re who I’m playing the game for and who I want to make proud.

What’s the silliest thing you’ve ever bought?

When I was 18 I bought a Casio DG-10 – a digital guitar from the Eighties. It’s the most Eighties-looking thing I’ve ever seen. It plays through an amp so is sci-fi sounding. I used it twice and then never touched it again.

If you could be any of your team-mates, who would it be?

I’d be Devin Toner because I’d like to see what it’s like to be that tall for a while – 6ft 10in is next-level tall.

Your three dream dinner party guests?

I’ve got to get Johnny Cash in there. I’d have Donald Trump to see what he came out with. And Roger Federer – he oozes class and is a really good guy.

Ireland wing Jacob Stockdale

High jump: Ulster’s Jacob Stockdale competes for the ball with Jeff Hassler (Getty Images)

What was your first-ever job?

I’ve never had a part-time job. My mum’s a university lecturer so wanted me to focus on my studies. She didn’t want me to fail A Levels because I was working.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

I love Jeremy Kyle. Any time I’m at home when it’s on, I can sit there and watch that for an hour and a half.

What would be your Mastermind specialist subject?

These are hard questions! I feel like I’d be quite good on animals. I remember unusual facts about animals.

Can you give us an example?

A king cobra barks like a dog. I like how you asked me to back up my knowledge and put me under pressure there!

What’s the secret to your scoring form?

To score tries as a winger you have to go looking for the ball a bit and put yourself in a position to score tries. At the same time, I’ve been fortunate enough that brilliant plays from other people have put me in positions to score tries.

Do you ever plan your celebrations?

Playing for Ireland U20s, I dabbed after a try and regretted it given the amount of stick I got. I try to keep it organic now!

What would you like to achieve outside of rugby?

Right now, I want to get a degree. I was doing a criminology degree – it’s something that really interests me – but I had to give it up. It’s very much an aspiration of mine to go back and finish it. I’m hoping to do an Open University course this upcoming year.

This article originally appearing in the May 2018 edition of Rugby World magazine. Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.