Wednesday 1 February 2023 Dublin: 6°C
# familiar face
Snapchat mates and baby-making: Douglas' Dublin links are strong
The 27-year-old lock is back in Ireland with the Wallabies.

WHEN KANE DOUGLAS is asked about which of the Leinster squad he still keeps in contact with, it’s something of a surprise to hear Tadhg Furlong’s name.

Kane Douglas James Crombie / INPHO Douglas started last year's World Cup final. James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

Not that Furlong isn’t a lovely chap, but the thought of a proud Wexford man and the Australian lock forming a close friendship – with three years of an age gap –  wouldn’t have occurred to us.

“We have a similar sense of humour,” says Douglas with a smile. “I’m always trying to crack jokes and be a bit of a dickhead, so we sort of suited hanging out together. We both enjoy a feed and things like that, I think he’s a great bloke.”

27-year-old Douglas is back in Dublin this week with the Wallabies, preparing for Saturday’s final November Test against Ireland. Michael Cheika’s men are out to ensure a clean sweep on their tour, having beaten Wales, Scotland and France over the past three weekends.

While Saturday’s Test match is the primary focus for Douglas, of course, he has enjoyed the opportunity to visit the place he called home for less than one season. A day off today will allow him to catch up with a few more familiar faces.

The 29-times capped locked was granted a release from his Leinster deal in July 2015, with two years left on the contract. The province received a fee from the ARU for their agreement to release Douglas and it’s now all water under the bridge.

Douglas’ wife, Jennarly, and young child – who was conceived in Ireland – have made the trip over this week and are re-acquainting themselves with Dublin.

“I have some great memories here,” says Douglas. “I proposed to my girlfriend at the time, she’s now my wife. We became pregnant here, a little baby was made here.

“I’ve made some great friendships, my wife is staying at Mike McCarthy’s house with him and his wife so I’ll have some great memories here and I’m really glad I did come over here, but just for family reasons and other things, I wanted to move back home. I have great memories of being here.”

Kane Douglas Ryan Byrne / INPHO Douglas spent one season with Leinster. Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

McCarthy and Douglas have maintained strong contact in the last year  - “he always sends me some funny ones” – while the friendship with tighthead prop Furlong is kept alive through their regular Snapchat updates.

Rugby-wise, Douglas’ time with Leinster couldn’t be seen as a major success. He started three Champions Cup games, but was realistically still only finding his feet in Northern Hemisphere rugby by the time he decided to return home.

“I probably packed a few more scrums than I would in Australia,” says Douglas when reflecting on what he learned here. “Just the different type of rugby, a different style – more grinding, disciplined, although I still probably give away too many penalties!

“Leinster was very disciplined and very hard on that because you can’t afford to give away penalties and teams kick goals over here, because you don’t get as many opportunities to score tries.

“There’s a heap of little things but with a year’s experience you sort of can’t exactly say what you’ve learnt, but I think I’ve gained from that experience.”

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The move home paid immediate dividends for Douglas, as he broke straight into Chieka’s Wallabies set-up for the 2015 World Cup, starting six games in that tournament as his best form returned.

The Reds lock was in the starting XV for the final against the All Blacks, but a nasty knee injury ended the biggest game of his career just 15 minutes in.

Surgery on that injury then meant he played only three times for the Reds in this year’s Super Rugby competition.

Kane Douglas Morgan Treacy / INPHO Douglas was in fine form in Dublin yesterday. Morgan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

Douglas got fit in time to start three games in this year’s Rugby Championship, before sitting out the opening two Tests of this tour and then starting last weekend against the French.

“It was great,” says Douglas of wearing the number four shirt in the 25-23 win in Paris.” I haven’t played in a while so I was probably sucking in a few big ones out there.

“It was good to get another run. I think I got nearly 70 minutes. Hopefully, if I get a game this week, I’ll be better for that.”

Back on familiar soil for this final Test of the tour, the second row had expected to be sharing some knowledge with his team-mates.

“The coaches look into that sort of stuff and the more technical things than I know anyway,” says Douglas. “I thought I’d say a few things yesterday but the coaches had already seen a heap of the things!

“I know they’re all great players, the guys I knew from Leinster. Jamie Heaslip and Devin Toner, big lineout options. If I can say anything, I’ll try to, but most of the coaches have already nailed all that sort of stuff.”

Douglas’ time at Leinster ended just as Johnny Sexton was returning from Racing 92, meaning the pair have never played together.

The out-half has been ruled out of the clash with the Wallabies this weekend, but Douglas says the Australians aren’t getting ahead of themselves, with Paddy Jackson and Joey Carbery showing up well in recent times.

Kane Douglas Morgan Treacy / INPHO Douglas now plays club rugby with the Reds. Morgan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

“I think the young guys who have been there in his place – Joey Carbery has been going great for Leinster, so I’m sure they’ll have all that sorted anyway, whoever is going to be the man at 10.

“But we’re just expecting it to be a pretty physical forward pack battle and they’ve got some exciting players in their team, so we’ve just got to do our homework and get set for Saturday.”

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