Caelan Doris: ‘Being on the same page is the important part for Ireland’

Leinster player knows Irish team will have to arrive in London with a changed game face

Joe Marler, the England forward not averse to a skirmish, has been here before. He knows what to expect on Saturday.

“A nice, clean bar brawl, none of the dirty stuff. No gouging or glass-throwing, just the clean stuff,” he said from England’s HQ in Bagshot.

Oxymoron aside of a clean barroom brawl, Marler's summation is not far away from what Irish backrow, Caelan Doris is expecting to face. The language may be different but the way the penultimate match of this year's Six Nations Championship pans out may test the limits of physical aggression.

With UK papers also reporting that it is more than possible England will field just four starting survivors from last year’s 32-18 defeat in Dublin, there will be a different look to the side although the emotion and commitment will not change.

Doris also understands that in Ireland's short journey from Italy to England, they will have to arrive in London with an entirely changed game face.

"Yeah definite," he says. "They're obviously a massive line speed team, will put a lot of defensive pressure on us, very good defensive forwards especially. The like of Underhill might be back involved and Curry as well, Courtney Lawes, (Maro) Itoje, all their front rows are strong in that area so we're definitely going to need to be on it."

In Ireland’s last visit, the match was lost but the team showed a different way against the kind of physical menace England brings to the ‘brawl.’

“It was a very physical game,” says Dooris. “And showing that we can take them on up front, both in the gainlines and carries but also defensively – I think they had two breakaway tries but for large portions we defended quite well – and showed that we can match them physically.

“Obviously the England pack is always a pretty big one and that’s a strength of theirs, having large, powerful runners that can get over the gainline.”

The Eddie Jones chatter, Doris is treating like a "talk to the hand" exchange. He's not interested in faux compliments about Ireland being the most cohesive team, although, who knows what Jones believes might motivate his own team.

“It’s just outside noise really,” says Doris, who sees Ireland requiring improvements before they can claim any world status conferred by England.

“We’ve seen it in patches but we definitely haven’t gotten a full 80 minute performance,” he says. “Even going back to November we didn’t have it there. We had it in parts against Italy but obviously they were down to 13. We had it in parts over in Paris as well and against Wales probably the most we’ve had it this year.

“The consistency of it and all being on the same page is the important part. The way we train sets us up to be pretty cohesive as well I think, getting quite a bit of reps in our unstructured stuff and trying to learn different people’s nuances.”


Doris has been moving around the backrow. He moved from six to number 8 against Italy. Fluidity has been part of Andy Farrell’s gospel. If a backrow or secondrow is injured or sin binned, his business is to jump into the lineout and know the drill.

It has been a challenge but a rewarding one with Farrell showing belief in the talent Doris brings to the squad. Player of the series in November backed that up.

“He has backed me all the way from the start, asking me to play to my strengths,” he says. “Believing in what I can do and being myself as a player is a big thing that he always says to us.”

“And then just trying to be as grounded as possible. So obviously focusing on your strengths but trying to fill the other areas as well and keep getting better at those.”

He says improving his play and that of the other players has been about being able to read cues and nuances of players a split second earlier than they had been doing.

Oddly that maybe gets back to what Jones was saying. But nobody is getting carried away just yet, at least in the Ireland camp. In England their sangfroid remains intact and if Marler’s view is that of England, it could be taken as chilling.

"I don't think I've ever felt like an underdog at Twickenham … maybe against New Zealand once," said the Harlequins prop.

England thinking at its most clear.