Jacob Stockdale has detected mental scars in his team-mates as preparations continue for tomorrow evening’s rematch with the Pumas at the Aviva Stadium, but the ghosts of Cardiff and that World Cup quarter-final exit are not haunting him or his fellow rookies.
Three caps into his Test career, the Ulster wing has plenty of things to occupy him, as he looks to build on a try-scoring home debut in the record 38-3 victory over South Africa in Dublin a fortnight ago. World Cup heartache is not one of them.
“It’s all kind of a new experience for us, but, that being said, it’s hard not to feel the hurt that the guys have felt,” said Stockdale, 21, after he was named in the starting XV “It’s great to be going in with a clean slate and just play the rugby that I want to play and we want to play. Having said that, I still think there will be an added edge.”
He made his Ireland debut during the summer tour with a try-scoring first appearance in the one-off Test against the US in New Jersey, backing it up with another start in the second Test against Japan. Selection against South Africa not only marked his home debut, but a significant first involvement against tier-one opposition, so the wing is delighted to be handed another opportunity this weekend.
“I don’t know if it means more, but it’s a pretty big factor for me. It’s really encouraging for Joe to pick me again so soon afterwards and starting to make me realise he sees me as part of the team and the squad.
“I just have to do everything I can right. Against South Africa, I didn’t really get much opportunity with the ball, but anything I did, I did well.
“I think it’s the same against Argentina, I’ve done my prep, I know them inside out and I know what I’m doing, so it’s just down to the game and, if the opportunities come, I’ve to take them.”
Stockdale is no stranger to seizing such opportunities, as he did at Ulster when he returned to the province after reaching the U20 World Championship final with Ireland two summers ago.
“At that point, it was obviously trying to get over just being beaten in the final (by England) and getting stuck into pre-season with Ulster, because that was me going into my second pre-season with them.
“I just wanted to train as hard as I could with them and then, at that point, I was just trying to get games for Ulster and get on the pitch because there was Tommy (Bowe), Trimby (Andrew Trimble), (Craig) Gilroy, Louis Ludik, a whole plethora of wingers ahead of me and, at that point, I was just trying to get on the pitch.”
As he looks around this Ireland camp, there are examples of similar chances being grabbed and Stockdale has one in mind for inspiration.
“If you look at Robbie Henshaw coming through when he was at Connacht, he played U20s and, in no time, he was into the Irish senior set-up, so I think he’s been a guy I’ve always looked at for being pretty impressive and going about it the right way.”