Jacob Stockdale's poor run of form continued in yesterday's Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final defeat to Toulouse, and Bernard Jackman feels it's enough for him to be in real danger of losing his Ireland place.
The Ulster winger had to switch to full-back early in the game owing to a Billy Burns injury but saw himself beaten on the inside by Toulouse winger Chesling Kolbe for the first two of the French side's five tries in yesterday's 36-8 defeat.
The 24-year-old has struggled to recapture his breathtaking 2018 form in the last 18 months, but Joe Schmidt and more recently Andy Farrell showed faith in him during the 2019 World Cup and this year's Six Nations.
However, with the remaining two Six Nations games against Italy and France top come next month, as well as the Autumn Nations Cup to come, former Leinster and Connacht hooker Bernard Jackman feels the time has come for Farrell to give someone else a chance to prove themselves in the Irish 11 shirt.
Speaking after yesterday's game at the Stade Ernst Wallon, Jackman told OTB Sports that the continued good form of Andrew Conway, and James Lowe's impending Irish eligibility, means Farrell has to explore other options, in the hope it kicks Stockdale into gear.
"He's been given game time since his form dropped on the basis that dropping him isn't necessarily the issue and maybe he won't react well. But there's a stage where you just have to make that call for the sake of the competition in the squad and giving other people an opportunity. There are candidates out there, James Lowe, Conway is on form, Keith Earls, you could play a different fullback and put Larmour on the wing.
"There is competition out there. I just don't see - unless he has a stormer to start the PRO14 - how he can feature for Ireland until he picks up his form."
Jackman added that Stockdale's inability to bounce back from early setbacks in games is also a worrying trend.
"The thing that's most worrying for me about Jacob Stockdale - not knowing him as an individual - is how when he has a bad moment, it seems to magnify and multiply. He got stepped twice for two tries, but it was the other parts of his game that don't require talent, or aren't around defence, that he didn't really impose himself.
"I'll just take as an example today's game. Yoann Huget - a quality international rugby player who has been usurped by the likes of Dupont and Ntamack and Kolbe in terms of attacking - but yet every impact he made defensively was at 100 percent intensity, whereas Jacob didn't really get involved at all in that, didn't go looking for work. James Hume made some errors but at least he's standing up and trying to partake in the game. That's the scary thing.
"Again he's a guy with unbelievable talent but it's going to be interesting whether he features for Ireland this autumn, because on form you couldn't pick him and it would be a really big call from Andy Farrell tp put him in to start for the remainder of the Six Nations," he added.
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