Six Nations 2023: Rory Best ‘delighted’ as Jacob Stockdale selected for Ireland

Six Nations 2023: Rory Best 'delighted' as Jacob Stockdale selected for Ireland

Jacob Stockdale goes in for a try against Japan in his last appearance for Ireland two years ago

Former Ireland captain Rory Best believes Jacob Stockdale could make an impact in the Six Nations after the wing was named in a 37-player squad.

Stockdale, 26, last featured for Ireland in 2021 and missed most of last season because of injury.

“We know when Jacob gets a little bit of that confidence he’s very hard to stop,” said Best, who played alongside Stockdale for Ulster and Ireland.

“Jacob is too good a player and I’m delighted to see him in the squad.”

He added: “Andy Farrell been around long enough to know what Jacob Stockdale can do. I think he’s bringing him in needing to keep him involved – whether we see him on the pitch or not will remain to be seen.

“Ireland don’t have enough numbers to completely disregard someone of his obvious ability. In terms of his form, it hasn’t been as good as a couple of years ago but he’s still feeling his way back from that injury.

“He’s also a player who, if he shows a lot in training and plays one more game for Ulster there’s no reason why he can’t be playing in the Six Nations either.”

Munster fly-half Joey Carbery was a notable absentee from Farrell’s squad while Ulster pair Nick Timoney and Michael Lowry also missed out.

Ireland go into the Six Nations as as the world number one side and they travel to face Wales in their opener on 4 February.

Best, who led Ireland to the Grand Slam in 2018, says the Cardiff encounter has taken on a different complexion following the re-appointment of Warren Gatland as Wales coach last month.

He added: “Andy Farrell has gone for 37 players he thinks have a very good chance of going to the World Cup later this year. He’s got it right, that blend and mix.

“The game against Wales is absolutely massive. If you’d asked me six-eight weeks ago before Warren Gatland got announced you would have been reasonably confident, bordering on very confident, going there with Wales in disarray and hard to see how they could turn it around.

“Knowing the Welsh players and Welsh teams and I’ve played against, when you give them a spike of confidence and that belief which Gatland will give them, they become a very dangerous proposition.

“So that, all of a sudden, becomes a massive banana skin. But it’s also a game that if Ireland can win then it just gives them so much momentum.

“It could set Ireland up to have a fantastic Six Nations. I would be very optimistic for Ireland to do very well. Is a Grand Slam possible? I think Ireland are in the best position possible. Is it probable? Maybe. I hope they do and they’re very capable of doing it.”

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