Eddie O'Sullivan says Andy Farrell faces a big decision at full-back for the Autumn Nations Cup following Jacob Stockdale’s "nightmare" performance against France.
Stockdale, who shifted from the wing to full-back for Ireland’s rearranged Six Nations games against Italy and France, had a night to forget in Paris as their title hopes went up in smoke.
A first-half handling error resulted in a French penalty try while there were also question marks over the Ulsterman’s positioning.
Ireland begin their Autumn Nations Cup campaign at home to Wales on 13 November, live on RTÉ2, and O’Sullivan says Stockdale’s struggles has created a "huge problem".
Tell us what you really think, Eddie...! Safe to say this week's RTE Rugby Podcast was a lively affair. pic.twitter.com/jxbveO4oOh— RTÉ Rugby (@RTErugby) November 5, 2020
Speaking on the RTÉ Rugby podcast, former Ireland head coach O’Sullivan said: "It’s obvious the guy wasn’t ready for full-back at international level. He was completely at sea. He got away with it against Italy because we were on the front foot all day.
"What’s emerging as well is that, and I don’t want to hammer him too much, he doesn’t tackle very well.
"The last Italian try where the No 10 (Paolo Garbisi) went through, he bought a dummy and let him go through. He should have hit him so hard he could taste his fillings and force him to make the pass.
"Again last weekend, for France’s (first) try, he let Antoine Dupont run under the posts. And the chip over the top (for the third try), again he made no tackle there.
"It seems to me that he doesn’t know what his job is at full-back. Positionally, he’s about ten yards out of position most of the time and that’s killing them in the back field."
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Stockdale has been playing at full-back for Ulster this season and while O’Sullivan believes the 24-year-old could yet develop into a Test 15, he says that will take a lot of coaching and game time.
"The problem now is that his confidence has to be in the tank," said O’Sullivan. "Putting him into full-back again in another Test game is going to be a very exciting day out, which is what you don’t want.
"A good defensive system means your full-back doesn’t make many tackles because he’s your last line of defence. If they put him in now against Wales he’s going to be more nervous than he was in Paris. And you can’t turn him into a full-back in two weeks.
"We have a huge problem now. They threw the guy they had earmarked as full-back into the deep end. He wasn’t ready, he’s had a nightmare. Now what do they do with him?
"Do you put him back on the wing and more or less say you’re never going to be a full-back, or throw him back in again when he’s very vulnerable?
"Wales will want a win no matter what, they won’t care how they get there. It’s a really tricky problem for Farrell to fix."
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