| 2.8°C Dublin

Malone heaps praise on Doris' 'limitless potential' as U-20s target Welsh scalp


Ireland's Caelan Doris. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Ireland's Caelan Doris. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile


Ireland's Caelan Doris. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

One wonders if the Ireland U-20s forward pack got together at some stage in recent weeks and figured that it was time that they made their mark and had people talk about them as well as the stellar back-line outside them.

Nigel Carolan has a wealth of options available to him out wide, which is illustrated by the return to fitness of Jack Kelly who is named at outside centre for the meeting with Wales tomorrow, rather than his usual full-back position.

Interestingly, Kelly who was voted captain by his team-mates prior to the start of the Six Nations, doesn't assume the skipper role - the honour instead falls to Calvin Nash who will be hoping that he lasts longer than the three injury-free minutes that he managed in the win over France.

It was in that impressive victory over France that the Ireland pack really stamped their authority and ultimately provided the platform for the likes of Tommy O'Brien and Jordan Larmour to showcase their undoubted talent.

When you consider that their powerful lock Fineen Wycherley wasn't involved against the French and was instead called up the Munster senior squad for the first time, it gives an idea of the strength of depth.

Cillian Gallagher's (shoulder) absence has been felt but Caelan Doris' powerful performances have made up for it.

Doris is an outstanding prospect at No 8 and will be underage for the 20s again next year. Already one of the main pack leaders, the former Blackrock student has "limitless potential," according to assistant coach Peter Malone.

"I think he can be excellent," Malone enthused.

"His athletic ability is super, he has a real innate rugby ability and has been one of the stand-out players in terms of his carry and his tackle. He's one of the guys we've really looked to so the potential is limitless.

"He is an U-19 player so he is that bit quiet at the moment but at top-level rugby there's no place for quiet guys as you have to own your space on the pitch but he'll grow into that. His natural ability and work rate will get him a long way. He's been excellent.

"I think he does realise his potential but he is a very quiet, humble guy. He takes on board information very well and if he's given feedback he takes it on board and gets better."

Fresh from making his professional debut from the bench in Munster's Pro12 win over Cardiff last weekend, Wycherley is restored to the starting XV and Malone was suitably impressed by his cameo.

"He came on and did what he does very well - he got stuck in, made a few super breakdown hits, good defensively and made a good scrambled tackle. The lads were very happy with him. He's been showing well in training."

Ireland will need all of Doris and Wycherley's power in Wales tomorrow as Carolan's side look to remain on course for a Grand Slam showdown with England in Dublin next week.

Ireland U-20s (v Wales) - J Larmour; T O'Brien, J Kelly, C Frawley, C Nash (capt); B Johnston, J Stewart; J Conway, T McElroy, C Connolly; F Wycherley, O Dowling; G Coombes, P Boyle, C Doris. Reps: R Kelleher, G McGrath, M Burke, J Regan, J Stafford, C Fitzgerald, C Hogan.

Irish Independent