Saturday 19 August 2017

Give Douglas time to make his mark, O'Kelly urges Blues fans

The Leinster team celebrate as captain Leo Cullen lifts the Pro 12 trophy
The Leinster team celebrate as captain Leo Cullen lifts the Pro 12 trophy
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Former Leinster stalwart Malcolm O'Kelly has urged fans to be patient with new second-row signing Kane Douglas.

The 25-year-old will join the province in October after he fulfils his commitments with Australia in the Rugby Championship.

Douglas has been signed as a replacement for the now retired Leo Cullen, and O'Kelly is hoping that the Leinster fans give him sufficient time to develop.

"You have so much still to learn as a 25-year-old second-row so he needs time. You can't expect too much from him straight away," he said.

"You know what you're getting with him. He's going to be a solid, tough player – the kind of guy you would mix with Devin Toner. He's a little bit younger than Mike McCarthy as well."

With Toner again likely to miss a large part of Leinster's Pro12 season due to international commitments, O'Kelly feels that Douglas' signing will give Matt O'Connor a regular, quality option in the second-row.

"He'll be good for at least 30 games of the season whereas other guys will be away for Ireland. That is very important," added O'Kelly.

"We saw this season how well Leinster coped when their international players were away with Ireland, so Douglas will give Matt another quality option during that period."

Meanwhile, O'Kelly expects Toner to thrive in his new role as the main line- out operator.

Leinster have had plenty of successful foreign imports in recent seasons and O'Kelly wants to see Douglas reach that high level of consistency.

"Heinke van der Merwe and Brad Thorn were both quality when they came in but you'd have to wonder if Douglas will be like that at just 25," he said.

"You won't get pure leadership with him. That responsibility will fall to Devin. It's a big job for him but I expect him to excel in it."

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