Six NationsTeam Update

‘No issue’ with Caelan Doris as Easterby explains why backrow missed Ireland training

Ireland assistant coach says Ciarán Frawley ready for step-up if picked while Garry Ringrose is back in contention

Simon Easterby has allayed fears that Caelan Doris is a doubt for Ireland’s Six Nations clash with Wales next Saturday at the Aviva Stadium (kick-off 2.15pm) even though the Irish backrower sat out training at the IRFU’s HPC in Sports Campus Ireland on Tuesday morning.

“Caelan didn’t train and that was the plan at the beginning of the week, just to manage him,” said the Irish defence coach. “But we’re expecting him to train fully tomorrow, so there should be no issue with Caelan.”

Explaining the reasoning behind Doris missing training, Easterby said: “He is probably carrying a few [injuries], but more bumps and bruises. I guess he took a few hits against Italy and he’s in a good place but he needs to be managed in a couple of areas.

“We don’t expect him not to be fully fit for the weekend,” said Easterby.


Unsurprisingly, Hugo Keenan also didn’t train with the rest of the squad due to the knee injury he suffered against Italy and which will almost certainly rule him out of next Saturday’s third-round fixture against the Welsh.

“Hugo has been such a massive part of this group since he first made his debut a few years ago, so it’s important that we give him the opportunity to prove his fitness. But we are really excited as well about the opportunities that might present if he doesn’t make it,” said Easterby.

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“We feel really excited about what’s to come in and the opportunities that other guys will get to step up.”

Ciarán Frawley is in pole position to play at fullback in what would be his first Test start after two caps off the bench in the World Cup warm-up against Italy and for the last four minutes of the opening Six Nations win over France in Marseille.

Easterby expressed full faith in the 26-year-old’s ability to replace Keenan.

“Frawls is really confident and he will often cover more than one position; 15, 10, 12. Someone like that has to be really competent and he is. He is giving guys a lot of confidence and he’s got a real good way about him. He is quite unassuming but he’s really confident and he is composed.

“He’s really thriving in that position and he’s a player that has been on the radar for a while. Opportunities have maybe been a bit short for him in terms of his position at Leinster, being moved around a little bit, but he certainly is a player we would really be keen and excited about seeing at 15.”

Iain Henderson is also likely to miss out when the Irish matchday squad is confirmed early on Thursday afternoon after sustaining a foot injury in Ulster’s loss the Ospreys in Swansea last Sunday.

“He [Henderson] played on the weekend against the Ospreys so he is still being assessed for a foot injury,” said Easterby. “We’re leaving him a little bit of time. Those injuries take a bit longer to settle down and the assessment will probably be done with the other guys tomorrow.

“For someone like Caelan in particular, you wouldn’t want to leave it too late, you’d also want to make sure you give the guys that potentially do start the opportunity to get time in the saddle. It’s important that we grow the squad and grow the experience that the guys have and that’s the case for Caelan’s position and Hugo’s.”

On the plus side, Garry Ringrose appears to be fully fit again after missing the opening two games with a shoulder injury.

“Garry has obviously missed the first couple of weeks and I think it was the right thing to do for him to make sure he gets that shoulder right but he’s in a really good place.

“We’re really fortunate with the guys we have in that midfield. I thought Stu [McCloskey] was excellent on the weekend against Italy. It’s a really competitive position with Robbie [Henshaw], Bundee {Aki], Stu, and Garry in there.

“It’s positive we’ve got those guys firing and it will be important not just this weekend but on into England and Scotland that we’ve got a full deck to choose from,” said Easterby.

Gerry Thornley

Gerry Thornley

Gerry Thornley is Rugby Correspondent of The Irish Times