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Doris to make impact second time of asking

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Caelan Doris

Caelan Doris

SPORTSFILE

Caelan Doris

As the clock ticked towards the 72nd minute last Sunday, Ireland launched what was an all-too-rare incisive attack that had the English defence scrambling.

That it was created by four of the replacements would have pleased Andy Farrell as he was considering changes for the Italy game until its postponement.

Keith Earls' fight on the ground gained him an extra couple of metres in the carry before John Cooney and Ross Byrne linked well to set Caelan Doris away.

What was even more encouraging is that Doris called for the ball early on, while Byrne had the confidence to throw a lovely skip pass over the head of the onrushing Maro Itoje.

It was a snapshot of how Ireland could have got around England rather than through them, but by that stage of the game, it was too little, too late.

Going forward, however, it does offer hope, particularly in how Doris created the space before showing exactly what he is all about.

Dominance

Having only lasted four minutes of his international debut against Scotland before a head injury ended his involvement, last weekend was the first proper glimpse of the soon-to-be first-choice No 8. Although the circumstances couldn't have been more difficult given England's dominance, Doris and his fellow subs made a big impact.

The 21-year-old tore up the left flank and showcased his blistering speed, as well as his ability to link play as he offloaded brilliantly for Cooney.

To Farrell's credit, he had picked the Leinster man for his first game in charge, which signalled his intention to move forward with a more rounded back-row, but circumstances dictated that those plans had to be shelved until now.

Even without the chance to impress next weekend, Farrell may feel that it is time to revert back to his original plan and back Doris for the No 8 jersey for the trip to Paris. That he is even in the position to do so has come as a surprise to the former Ireland U20s captain, who admitted: "I wasn't targeting international games this year at all, really.

"With Jack Conan being out that kinda opened up a spot. I was happy with how I was playing for Leinster, and then happy to be part of that stock-taking before the Six Nations squad, and then go from there.

"When you get your first game for Leinster you want more and more and more, then you get a couple of games and you want to play in bigger games, then you play in Europe, then you play for Ireland, and when you get in the Irish squad you want to play in more and more and more games.

"I'm delighted to be in the squad and I'm delighted to get a bit of game-time as well. Hopefully there's more to come. Yeah, take it as it comes but that (another start) would be nice. I'm just looking forward to going again."

Like Paul O'Connell on his Ireland debut, Doris was sparked on his, but he hasn't let that setback hold him back, despite having suffered a concussion already earlier on in the season.

All of the necessary precautions were taken and having gotten 20 minutes off the bench against England, Doris is ready to reignite the start of his international career.

"Obviously I was disappointed to come off so early but still delighted to be involved in the games, and back playing," the Mayo native said.

"I remember up to the fourth minute! And I didn't have any symptoms after and was back running two days later. But I had one (concussion) early on in the year, so they (medical team) were a bit more cautious with my return to play this time.

"Having had my first one in my first start against Treviso, and then one in my first international start as well, hopefully that's the two of them out of the way now.

"It's been a good learning curve and it's been really enjoyable."

Doris sat on the bench watching the damage unfold last weekend and while other younger, less experienced players may have been daunted by the prospect of being asked to come into a game like that, he relished it.

"I was looking forward to getting on throughout the game and trying to stamp my mark on it as best as I could, but yeah, it is frustrating at times," Doris added.

"But we can't allow a first half like that and we can't let something like that have to give us the kick for the second half. Our focus has to turn quickly. We have a fallow week now, so we'll review the game pretty extensively and see where things went wrong" he added.