Caelan Doris On The Legendary Number Eight He Admires & Looks Up To As Inspiration
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He may have just 25 minutes to his name in a green shirt so far but Leinster back-row Caelan Doris is already being tipped to go all the way to the top in a green jersey in the months and years to come.
The 22-year-old burst onto the scene with Leinster last year and made his debut for Ireland against Scotland in the Six Nations, only to have it cut short by a nasty head injury.
But with a packed Autumn schedule to come, the talented youngster is expected to play a key role for Andy Farrell’s side as they look to complete their 2020 Six Nations fixtures and take part in the Autumn Nations Cup.
Doris is very much seen as a modern-day number eight, who is equally as comfortable in a six jersey and could probably do a job at seven do given his excellent footwork and skills.
But who has he looked to for inspiration in terms of modelling his game? None other than former All Blacks captain Kieran Read who will go down as one of the best eights in the history of the game following an incredible Test career.
“Kieran Read over the last ten years or so has been someone I’ve watched quite a bit and admired the way he plays,” Doris told us after being on hand to announce the nominees for the 2020 Zurich Players’ Player of the Year Award.
“I think [he has that] balance of the power game matched with good feet, agility, offloading and ball-skills and that’s something I want to improve on.
“That’s the model I want to go for.”
Doris’ predecessor, former Ireland, Leinster and Lions number eight Jamie Heaslip spoke on the Up & Under Podcast about the youngster a few weeks ago, lauding him as the “best eight in the country” right now.
The 22-year-old, who was nominated today for the Nevin Spence Young Player of the Year award, was grateful of Heaslip’s praise and mentioned him as another pro he has looked to model his game on.
“That’s cool to hear,” Doris said
“He was obviously unbelievable for Ireland over the years.
“He’s someone like Read who has got that balance between the power game, the feet and agility and ball skills as well. He’s someone I would have watched closely and would have learned quite a bit off.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have too much time at Leinster together, we only got a few training sessions in but he’s a special player.
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Episode 8 has arrived – a full day early this week featuring Eddie Jones, Jamie Heaslip, Ronan Kelleher and Felipe Contepomi. 🎙 – Jason & Jamie Heaslip look back on the Irish provinces in the PRO14 over the weekend and look forward to the next round. ☘️ – Munster's last-minute heroics, a tough game for Ulster, the Bundee Aki show and business as usual for Leinster. 🏉 – Felipe Contepomi on Johnny Sexton's injury, the tighthead situation with Porter/Furlong and if the PRO14 is adequate preparation. 🤔 – Ronan Kelleher on his Ireland ambitions and finally playing an away game. ✈️ – The absolutely crazy fiasco with Sale Sharks in the English Premiership. 🤯 – Eddie Jons on rugby's financial problems, Manu Tuilagi's injury and adapting to the new breakdown interpretations. 🏴 Available now wherever you get your podcasts. 🎧
Doris has been playing some rugby at six for Leinster of late but going forward he wants to be seen primarily as an eight but is happy with the exposure he’s been getting there to help him improve his game even further.
“I’m happy to play six or eight but I’ve kind of said I’d like to be an eight who can play six rather than a six who can play eight,” Doris added.
“But I’m happy to have that bit of exposure in the lineout and grow in that area.”
Pictured are Irish rugby’s Caelan Doris and Louise Galvin announcing the nominees for the 2020 Zurich Irish Rugby Players Awards including the Zurich Players’ Player of the Year Award. Celebrating the achievements of Irish rugby players both on and off the field, the Zurich Irish Rugby Players Awards will be broadcast on Virgin Media Two on Saturday, 17th October after the Heineken Champions Cup Final. In contention for the much sought-after Zurich Players’ Player of the Year Award are two of Doris’ Leinster Rugby teammates, James Lowe and Garry Ringrose. Joining them on the shortlist are Munster Rugby’s Andrew Conway and Ulster Rugby’s John Cooney, who excelled for their provinces this year. The retiring Galvin is joined on the shortlist for Women’s 7s Player of the Year by Kathy Baker and Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, who has won the award on three previous occasions. Whilst Doris is nominated for the Nevin Spence Young Player of the Year Award cementing his burgeoning reputation across club and country, he faces strong competition from two outstanding players; Leinster Rugby’s Ryan Baird and former Ireland 7s player, Munster Rugby’s Shane Daly.