Gary Carr/INPHO

'He's pretty special' - Ireland excited about Doris' impact in first year of Test rugby

The 22-year-old has quickly become an important figure for Andy Farrell’s side.

CAELAN DORIS’ 2020 with Ireland has been bookended by two very different experiences against Scotland at the Aviva Stadium.

The first was his debut back in February. Selecting the 21-year-old was a big call from head coach Andy Farrell but Doris had earned his shot thanks to consistently excellent form for Leinster.

That first cap lasted just four minutes, however, as Doris was deeply unfortunate to suffer a concussion soon after he had won a crucial turnover penalty in Ireland’s 22 as they withstood some early pressure from the Scots. 

Fast forward 10 months and Doris is already an important figure in this Ireland team.

As Farrell’s side ended their year with a pleasing 31-16 win over the Scots, Doris was man of the match from the number eight jersey, thoroughly underlining his quality and further potential.

Still only 22, the Mayo man will certainly be on Warren Gatland’s list as a potential Lion for next year but the most exciting thing for Ireland is that they believe there is plenty more left in Doris.

He is just seven caps into his Test career, yet Doris looks like a key man for Farrell.

“I was as impressed as you guys would have been,” said Ireland boss Farrell. “He is some man for taking on one-on-ones and carrying deep, five metres over the gainline. His leg drive and his ability not to accept contact and just go down, he’s pretty special.

“He has learned a lot through this period. It has been a priceless time for Caelan to be in international camp for eight weeks, as it is for many others in our group.

“The learnings that those lads will take from this period is fantastic for us going forward. They’ve learned a lot about themselves and what it takes to be an international player, what it takes to perform in a really pressured environment.

johnny-sexton-presents-caelan-doris-with-the-guinness-player-of-the-match-award Doris was man of the match against Scotland. Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

“They’ll reflect on that massively and come back bigger and stronger in the Six Nations.”

Doris will certainly analyse several things he can improve on but he has made an impression on his Ireland team-mates over the course of 2020.

Captain Johnny Sexton was effusive in his praise for Doris after the win over Scotland, while underlining that there is more to come.

“Incredible, an incredible year to come in and do what he has done,” said Sexton. “Obviously, his first appearance against Scotland didn’t go to plan when he got knocked out after about two or three minutes.

“He has just been brilliant. Some of the carries he puts in for a man of his size, he is not a massive, massive man, but he just comes out the other side of tackles.

“He has got an offload game, he has got a nice short passing game, off the base of the scrum he is very calm and collected, he makes really good decisions about when to go and when to pass.

“I’m not going to say he is the complete player because he can definitely keep getting better.

“He has had some big performances for us, but there is definitely another level in him. I think with the coaches that we have here and the coaches that we have in Leinster, they will definitely be pushing him to get better.”

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