Former Ireland and Leinster backrow Shane Jennings has shredded the performance of Jacob Stockdale in Ulster’s Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final match against Toulouse at Stade Ernest-Wallon. Ulster failed to put up much of a challenge against the might of the French giants, ultimately getting thumped 36-8 in a one-sided rout.

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Stockdale was up against Springbok hot-shot Cheslin Kolbe and was left second-best on more than one occasion by the Rugby World Cup winner. Kolbe stepped Stockdale for one of his two tries, but Jennings believes it was just part of ‘poor’ game for the one time star of Irish rugby.

The Guinness Six Nations Player of the Season in 2018 has been struggling to find a consistent vein of form in recent times, and some are questioning whether the Ulsterman can hold on to his Ireland jersey as the conclusion of the Six Nations and the ‘8 Nations’ approaches.

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“Where was Stockdale?” bemoaned Jennings on Virgin Media Sport on TV3. “He’s their Irish international, he’s their best players in the backline.

“You want Stockdale and McCloskey to step up, obviously there was the disruption. Even more so at that stage you want a fella like that, they’re going to turn to their leader, their best player.

“He was average at best. Sloppy ball-handling, shifting on passes to people in worse positions than he was. That would be what was really irking on me if I was a coach going back into that dressing room.”

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“The lads like Stockdale. Man he was poor. If you have your best player performing like that you’re not going to get anywhere. I think he needs to have a good hard look at himself.”

Fellow pundit Alan Quinlan questioned his aggression levels, and implied the uncapped New Zealand born James Lowe is set pinch his Ireland berth. “You look at James Lowe, enthusiasm coming in off the wing, popping in behind Sexton and coming in off rucks. You’d love to see Stockdale have more involvement and not just wait for the final pass because he’s an excellent finisher.”

Criticism of the team’s performance wasn’t just voiced outside the Ulster camp, with Ulster head coach Dan McFarland accepting that it fell well below the standard required.

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“Toulouse are a good team and when you make mistakes they are going to punish you. The slightest error and they are through to score,” said McFarland. “They showed that and they are a great team. On the reverse side of things, we know we didn’t look like a quarter-final team today.

“For whatever reason we haven’t been playing very well after the break and it looked like that today. We got punished and we deserved it.

“We just aren’t playing very well at the moment – that’s the bottom line.

“I was really pleased with the way the forwards went up front. We talked about their pack and for 60 minutes our scrum was excellent and our set-piece worked well – hats off to the forwards but in other areas of the game we weren’t at the races.”

additional reporting PA

 

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