Rugby

'I Think He's The Best Number Eight In Ireland Right Now'

'I Think He's The Best Number Eight In Ireland Right Now'

Caelan Doris is set to make his international debut this weekend when Ireland face Scotland at the Aviva on Saturday evening. The 21-year-old has been named at number eight in Andy Farrell's first team as Ireland head coach.

In the absence of Jack Conan from the Leinster team, Doris and Max Deegan have vied for the number eight jersey at the province this season.

"I think he's the best number eight in Ireland right now," Jamie Heaslip said about Doris on Tuesday.

"He's probably the form backrow in Ireland right now.

"I think he has a great ability to play both sides of the ball well. Attack and defence.

"I think his mindset and his grunt and his relentless nature and his consistency is what's getting him the starting spot this weekend.

"But again, with that comes a lot of pressure. It's international footy now. So, the room for error is that bit smaller than European rugby.

Advertisement

"You could argue that no one's challenged Leinster so the room for error that's become used to this season compared to what is coming down the line in international rugby is bigger.

"He's got to react to that. And let's see. But you don't know until you give the kid a go. It's great to see he's got the nod. I'm excited to see him, I think he has the potential to be around for a very long time.

"The game is getting faster, the game is getting quicker. I don't think the volume of distance is changing a whole lot. The percentage of high speed running is changing in the game and the ball is in player long nowadays.

"You need players that are able to go the distance and play at speed, take the contacts and get back up and go again. You need players that are multi-faceted as well.

"The times of a guy being good on one side of the ball, and good at only doing one thing on one side of the ball, there's not a whole lot of those days left for players.

"That's where some players are potentially feeling the pressure come on because you have a crop of players coming through who can do many things.

Advertisement

"That means you've go to do that one thing unbelievably well because there's someone who can do that and other [things]. It's a good headache for coaches.

Irish rugby legend Jamie Heaslip is pictured at the unveiling of Aviva's new Sensory Hub in Aviva Stadium. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

The circumstances of Heaslip's Ireland debut were different to that of Doris. His came in 2006 against the Pacific Islands in a November International. It was 14 months later that he made his Six Nations bow, coming off the bench to replace Simon Easterby against Italy.

"You'd like to think the kid (Doris) will by the end of tomorrow have all his tickets sorted," said Heaslip.

"A couple of guys will probably put the arm around him and tell him just do what you're doing.

Advertisement

"A big crowd is not going to put him off. He's played here (at the Aviva), like. But it's a little bit different when you've the whole stadium shouting for you. There's a buzz off that, there's an energy off that. And the day goes past, it goes by like that. And the minute it's over, he's going to be worried about what song he has to sing on the bus.

"One of the lads will probably give him a jersey and tell him swap that jersey and keep your jersey from the game. Because it's a pretty important occasion. He'll get his cap. And then we'll see how Caelan kicks on. But the day itself will actually go by so fast. And the guys will tell him to enjoy it and do his thing."

Heaslip added that he was surprised to see neither Max Deegan or Jack O'Donoghue as a backrow option on the bench for the game against Scotland.

"But credit where credit is due, Pete (O'Mahony) has shown enough over the last few years to warrant that (a spot on the bench)," he said.

"But he's under pressure now, Caelan's under pressure now, CJ's (Stander) under pressure, Josh (Van der Flier) will be under pressure as well.

"And we're not even getting into the conversation of Jack Conan coming back, Dan Leavy coming back, Scott Penny coming up through the system as well. It's a good position to be in."

Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

See Also: Andy Farrell Names Ireland Team To Face Scotland

PJ Browne
Article written by

You may also like