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27th Nov 2021

“Just brilliant” – Alex Goode backs Caelan Doris for ‘Best Player’ award

Patrick McCarry

Caelan Doris

“The way he’s played has been just brilliant.”

Caelan Doris would have definitely been in contention for a British & Irish Lions spot were it not for concussion and a calf injury that meant he did not return to action in May of this year, after Warren Gatland’s squad was announced.

Having been backed by current players and rugby pundits, the Leinster back-row focused, instead, on making an impression with Ireland. He started their two summer games and got the blindside nod for Ireland’s wins over Japan and New Zealand. When Jack Conan missed out on the Argentina game, Doris slotted into the No.8 jersey, was brilliant again and got his second Test try in eight days.

“Caelan is only young in his international career, the same as Hugo Keenan, etcetera,” Ireland head coach Andy Farrell reflected, “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.”

On the latest House of Rugby episode [LISTEN from 11:40 below], hosts Seán O’Brien and Alex Goode reflected on the Autumn Nations Series and selected their best players from the past month of action.

Caelan Doris pictured at the Aviva Stadium after Ireland’s victory over Argentina. (Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile)

Huge praise for Caelan Doris, Antoine Dupont and Taine Basham

Looking back on the 2021 Autumn Nations Series, Seán O’Brien marvelled about France scrumhalf Antoine Dupont, who is favourite to win World Rugby Player of the Year.

“Dupont, what a player,” he declared. “He’s outrageous, at the minute… his level is untouchable. There’s no-one getting near him. He’s top of the pile, for me.”

In discussing the players that impressed them most, Alex Goode went first and had a certain Ireland forward in mind. The Saracens and England star commented:

“For me, the player of this autumn was Caelan Doris. I’d say that not many people would have named him as a household name, beforehand. He’s new enough to the international scene, and the way he’s played has been just brilliant.

“He’s come into the Leinster and Ireland set-up and just gone up, and up, and up. He had someone [Seán O’Brien] in his way that was taking his time to retire and getting in his way! And look how well he’s doing now.”

Caelan Doris among six ‘Best Player’ nominees

The panel that have selected the Autumn Nations Series’ best player nominations clearly agree with O’Brien and Goode. The six-man nominees are: Caelan Doris, French duo Antoine Dupont and Roman Ntamack, Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth and England pair Freddie Steward and Marcus Smith.

O’Brien, who left Leinster for London Irish in 2019, agrees that Doris has been “phenomenal”. He named a few other players, aside from Dupont, that impressed him during the Test window. “I thought Garry Ringrose was unbelievable,” he said. “Romain Ntamack, as well.”

“If I was to go for a guy that has most impressed me, though, I’d probably pick [Wales flanker] Taine Basham. I knew what Caelan was about and it was just a matter of time, once he came on to the scene, like he has at this international level over the last few weeks against the bigger teams.”

“Basham, for me,” he added, “because he’s almost come out of nowhere and now he’s an international players at a very high level. He’s someone that’s going to be very important for Wales.”


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