Caelan Doris and Josh van der Flier.
# back row
Doris and van der Flier complete outstanding autumn series for Ireland
Meanwhile, Andy Farrell was pleased with Joey Carbery’s impact.

IT WAS FRUSTRATING for Jack Conan not to be able to round out this brilliant Ireland autumn series at number eight but his late withdrawal from yesterday’s 53-7 win over Argentina didn’t stop the Irish back row from dominating.

Peter O’Mahony came in to deliver another excellent display, captaining Andy Farrell’s side for the second half, while Caelan Doris and Josh van der Flier simply picked up where they left off against the All Blacks.

The Leinster pair have been outstanding this month even in a team full of strong performers. 

Doris has understandably been making more of the headlines thanks to a trio of tour de force displays for Ireland, the first two against Japan and New Zealand coming in the number six shirt before a slight shift to number eight today following Conan’s injury.

The 23-year-old has thankfully put his concussion troubles behind him and is fulfilling all of his rich potential.

“I think Caelan would admit himself, he’s like the rest of them – they’re learning how to prepare properly,” said Ireland head coach Andy Farrell yesterday evening.

“Caelan is only young in his international career, the same as Hugo [Keenan], etc. but they’re learning how to prepare better and learning how to get the best out of themselves and their team-mates throughout the week.

“It looks like he’s been around for a long time and he’s certainly playing with maturity because he’s starting to get what it takes, as far as preparation is concerned, to be a top-class international player.”

josh-van-der-flier-celebrates-after-the-game-with-caelan-doris Dan Sheridan / INPHO Van der Flier and Doris after Ireland's win. Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Doris took his try against the Pumas with great power and bravery, bouncing out of a big hit from Pablo Matera and Francisco Gomez Kodela to surge at the tryline again, blasting through Tomás Cubelli to finish.

His skillset looks complete when you add in slick passing skills, offloads, lineout and maul work, a jackal threat at the breakdown, and lots of aggression in contact. 

Meanwhile, 28-year-old van der Flier continues to improve in Ireland’s number seven shirt.

He tends to go under the radar at times but he has worked very hard to round out his game, adding a muscular ball-carrying ability to his repertoire.

“He has been outstanding, Josh, in all three games,” said Farrell. “I know he’s come off in all three games but he’s been exceptional, he’s emptied himself.

“In fact, he’s got us out of a lot of trouble a lot of times in three games just by his sheer want to not get stopped in his carry.

“He’s been outstanding and I think something clicked with Josh when Will Connors was coming onto the scene. Will’s a great player and he’ll be coming back from injury fairly soon and he’ll push for a claim as well but Josh has stood up to the competition and he’s been exceptional this month.”

The official player of the match yesterday, though, was Joey Carbery. 

The Munster man started at out-half and then moved to fullback for the closing 30 minutes following the introduction of Harry Byrne.

joey-carbery-takes-a-kick Dan Sheridan / INPHO Joey Carbery was player of the match. Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

“It wasn’t always the plan,” said Farrell. “He has been covering 12 and 15 and there’s a few lads that are in the same position.

“I thought he was good. His place-kicking was exceptional and that keeps the scoreboard ticking over. For him to be in charge for the full week with Johnny [Sexton] not being there was a great experience for Joey and he will learn more from that game.”

Farrell was delighted with Ireland’s defence against the Pumas and praised Carbery for his efforts in that regard.

“I suppose in months or seasons have gone by you would say he needs to work on that.

“He’s been working unbelievably hard, I think he’s been exceptional defensively in the last few weeks.” 

The next step for Carbery will surely be a start in the 2022 Six Nations but Farrell is not a head coach who makes any promises.

“We’ll see. I’m sure other lads will have their say as well. I thought Harry came on and did pretty well and Jack Carty is doing very well. Billy Burns was really disappointed not to be here as well and they will go back to their clubs now.”

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