Access exclusive podcasts, interviews and analysis with a monthly or annual membership

Become A Member
Dublin: 13°C Saturday 24 October 2020

Read disciple Doris intent on making his mark as Leinster host Ospreys

The 21-year-old is one of a crop Leo Cullen has called on to ‘own the jersey’ while the World Cup is on.

Doris carries against Benetton.
Doris carries against Benetton.
Image: Matteo Ciambelli/INPHO

BIGGER AIN’T ALWAYS better, but Leinster’s imposing 6’4″, 106 kilo number 8 is hoping that a little extra size will put him in a position to thrive during his second full season in the pro ranks.

Having made is debut in the first half of 2018, Caelan Doris enjoyed a successful first proper campaign in Leinster’s senior side despite a 2018/19 pre-season that fell a little short of ideal.

“I didn’t come back in the best shape,” Doris admits of the lead-in to his 15-cap season.

Midway through last June, the number 8 skippered Ireland U20 to a win over Japan to close out the summer age grade ‘World Cup’. He was given four weeks off and was back playing in time for Leinster’s pre-season loss to Newcastle on 17 August.

“I was blowing hard in that one,” he says with a grave exhale at the memory of a gruelling 80-minute shift as Leinster fell to a heavy home loss.

“Into the Cardiff game first game of the season. So, I didn’t have that much of an opportunity to get my fitness up, put on size. Whereas this season, it’s been longer than usual (with the World Cup), so it’s been a great pre-season. I’m probably feeling in the best shape I’ve felt.”

Although, Leinster’s analysts have offered metrics to dampen down some of that confidence after the week one bonus point win in Italy.

“I felt pretty good against Treviso but heard this morning that ball-in-play time was very low, so that probably explains it.”

Against the Ospreys in the RDS this evening (kick-off 19.35), Doris will back himself to hit higher aerobic metrics. He packs down in a back row with Will Connors and Josh Murphy, but there is experience in the front eight thanks to a second row combination of Devin Toner and Scott Fardy.

Leo Cullen’s side are without 14 internationals including the injured Jack Conan. Yet a combination of Ospreys being without 10 of Warren Gatland’s squad and left with Dan Lydiate in the second row, plus home back-line that boasts the returning James Lowe, Fergus McFadden as well as the half-back partnership of Ross Byrne and Jamison Gibson-Park, Leinster will be confident of pushing for another win to keep momentum in the early portion of their Pro14 title defence.

Doris, a Mayo man via Blackrock, marks Kieran Read as the player whose style he admires most and a few of the trademarks can be glimpsed in the 21-year-old’s offloads.

Having used the extended pre-season to make himself more explosive with two lean extra kilos, the plan is to get himself over the gainline, through tackles and with free arms to make the sort of game-breaking plays the All Black captain has made an art form of.

“The way he creates space, he’s a smart player. Some of his lines and breakdowns, he can be on the edge sometimes, but if he gets away with it it’s smart play. His ability to offload, get the pass away at the back of the scrum – he’s definitely the best in the world (at that). Cleaning it up for Aaron Smith and providing a base for the backs.

“Ardie Savea as well. Massive fan of him. He’s so wiry on the ball, wriggly. Runs hard with the ball, good feet. A combination of those two would be ideal.”

Be part
of the team

Access exclusive podcasts, interviews and analysis with a monthly or annual membership.

Become a Member

The kind of player dream-teams are made of.

Yet Doris needn’t go to that realm to picture himself hitting goals. Cullen this week called on the players who are still under his roof to grit their teeth and ensure that a jersey earned in this World Cup period is not handed back without a fight. Underlining that point, Leinster have labelled this period of games ‘Own The Jersey’ and Doris is intent on sustaining his push through to the Champions Cup rounds in mid November.

“It’s not like we’re playing while the lads are away. Make this jersey yours and make it as hard as possible for guys to get it back off you when they come back.

“We’re all taking that on board and trying to put in the best performance in the jersey while we have the chance and make it tough as possible for those guys to get it back.

“It’s also a longer period. We’ve had the whole pre-season together, we had the trip to Canada. So, it’s a pretty tight group now.”


15. Hugo Keenan
14. Fergus McFadden
13. Rory O’Loughlin
12. Joe Tomane
11. James Lowe
10. Ross Byrne
9. Jamison Gibson-Park

1. Peter Dooley
2. Rónan Kelleher
3. Michael Bent
4. Devin Toner
5. Scott Fardy Capt
6. Josh Murphy
7. Will Connors
8. Caelan Doris


16. James Tracy
17. Michael Milne
18. Vakh Abdaladze
19. Ross Molony
20. Max Deegan
21. Rowan Osborne
22. Harry Byrne
23. Conor O’Brien


15. Cai Evans
14. Luke Morgan
13. Scott Williams
12. Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler
11. Keelan Giles
10. Luke Price
9. Shaun Venter
1.Rhodri Jones
2. Sam Parry
3. Tom Botha
4. Dan Lydiate Capt
5. Lloyd Ashley
6. Olly Cracknell
7. Sam Cross
8. Dan Baker


16. Scott Otten
17. Gareth Thomas
18. Gheorghe Gajion
19. Ben Glynn
20. Gareth Evans
21. Matthew Aubrey
22. Tom Williams
23. Hanno Dirksen

About the author:

Sean Farrell

Read next:


This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel