The world number two – who in November beat the All Blacks at home for the first time in their history – are gunning for the top spot and already have their eyes on the upcoming Rugby World Cup.
“Any player with a Tier One nation who says they’re not thinking about the World Cup would be lying,” Stockdale told The Guardian. “You don’t say: ‘Hopefully we’ll get to the semis and then go out.’ Winning it is a massive goal.”
“New Zealand are still the side to beat but we’ve won two of our last three games against them. They have that World Cup history and experience but I don’t think there’s the fear of New Zealand like before. We’re in a good position. We’re very confident.”
The 22-year-old winger was the only player to cross the chalk in Ireland’s 16-9 November win over the All Blacks.
Stockdale revealed the crucial score was the result of a five-year process.
“It was a set play Joe [Schmidt] ran back in 2013,” Stockdale said.
“It didn’t work but that’s what Joe does. If it doesn’t work he’ll put it into some big filofax of plays. He puts it on the back burner for a couple of years and then brings it out again.”
Stockdale spoke of his experience as part of the historic side that beat the All Blacks in Dublin.
“It was an incredible experience to be involved in that game,” Stockdale said.
“To be the first team to beat the All Blacks in Dublin, and to get a try, was special. There’s also more belief. When we lost to them in 2013 [24-22 with a last-minute Ryan Crotty try stealing an All Black victory] there was the feeling we were holding on and trying not to let them score.
“This time we were trying to attack all the way through. We went after them with confidence. That’s down to the coaches and senior players. They made a big impact.”
Stockdale also touched on the influence of Kiwi coach Joe Schmidt, who led the side to a Six Nations Grand Slam earlier this year and was recently named World Rugby Coach of the Year.
“He makes sure everything you do as a team, and individually, is excellent – whether cleaning out a ruck or making a pass. He’s created a culture where I go into training and know my passing needs to be nailed on and I need to be hitting rucks.
“He’ll be nice and calm but he’ll have a go at you whenever you need to pull your finger out.”
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