ASKED TO PICK out a player to watch this season, a potential World Cup bolter, many pundits nominated Caelan Doris.
After two seasons as number eight for the Ireland U20s, the excitement around the Mayo native wasn’t and isn’t surprising.
Doris is hoping for another opportunity against the Kings at the RDS on Friday night. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO
The 20-year-old back row, who shone in schools rugby with Blackrock College, is clearly highly-rated within Leinster too, having made his debut last season and being fast-tracked from the academy onto a senior contract.
He’s had six starts in the province’s number eight shirt this season, meaning frustration for the highly-rated 22-year-old Max Deegan at times, and Doris has shown his promise while also demonstrating signs that he understandably still has much to learn.
So while the hype may have picked up in the wider rugby sphere before and during this campaign, the St Mary’s College man is keeping his head down and focusing on learning his trade.
“Not overly aware,” says Doris when asked if he’s aware of the predictions of a quick rise. “I get the odd text, my dad or someone might let me know now and again, but my focus is on playing here as much as I can, being in the matchday 23s as frequently as possible, and for the bigger games as well, hopefully.
“Obviously, this period of the season is great for some of the younger guys, senior academy players, when the internationals are away to get that week-on-week run of games.
“My focus is on performing well, getting opportunities here and hopefully they’ll come in the bigger games down the line.”
Doris has been a matchday reserve for Leinster for Champions Cup outings this season but is still waiting on his debut in Europe.
Leinster announced that Aircoach will continue as the province’s Official Coach Supplier. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO
He spent 15 weeks of last season on the sidelines with a serious hamstring injury before returning for the World Rugby U20 Championship, captaining Ireland in a disappointing campaign that saw them finish 11th.
Doris comes across as a mature character and he’s adding strings to his bow all the time.
This season, he has been excellent in the lineout for Leinster – winning 13 so far in his nine appearances – a responsibility that is still relatively new to him.
“Underage and through school, I wasn’t involved with lineouts much,” he explains. “We’d often have five-mans and I’d be out carrying but since I’ve come in here, the academy last year and this season, it’s been a big work-on.
“I’ve put quite a lot of time into that and hopefully it’s starting to pay off now.”