Kane Douglas back in Dublin with a point to prove
Secondrow failed to impress in short time at Leinster but wants to shine for Australia
Australia’s Kane Douglas: had his time at Leinster cut short by Michael Cheika. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
Kane Douglas in action for Australia against France lock Yoann Maestri. Photograph: Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images
The career of Kane Douglas in Leinster never got started before it fizzled out. A combination of injury and homesickness was enough to turn the three year deal into less than one as a burgeoning new Australian coach, Michael Cheika made aggressive plays for players scattered across the globe, who he believed might bring him the World Cup in 2015.
Matt Giteau, Drew Mitchell and Dean Mumm returned to the fold, while Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal, in his highly dramatic way, threatened to sue the Australian Rugby Union after Quade Cooper delayed joining the richest club in the rugby world.
Douglas was another. A deal in part brokered by Cheika to get him to Leinster was also in part unpicked by him to get Douglas back into the Australian system.
One of those open book secondrow characters, he will never be the altar boy but has a capacity to draw in the crowd, or, run with it.
He was one of the 15 players who in 2013 decided Dublin was the town to have a “stubby night”. All of the players were sanctioned under the Ewen McKenzie regime for inappropriate drinking and six were banned from playing.
Adam Ashley-Cooper, Nick Cummins, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson and Liam Gill were banned from the Saturday Test against Scotland, while prop Paddy Ryan also sat out the subsequent match against Wales with a further nine players warned about their future behaviour.
“Yeah, I was out that night,” says Douglas. “I suppose things sort of had to change within the Wallabies culture. I think we’ve become more professional since then.
“We haven’t got any rules with Cheik [Michael Cheika]. There’s no rules. We’re all adults. But I don’t think something like that would happen again anyway.
“It’s been good from the leadership group. I feel like I’m getting pretty old now anyway, I’m 27 and I’ve got a wife and kids. Everyone just wants to be in the right positions on Saturday so we can play our best footy. I think the Wallaby culture and a heap of the boys have grown since then.”
Douglas made his way back in the summer from an eight-month layoff following knee surgery. There’s a dog fight for secondrow places and while he played against France the consensus was he needs another hit out.
“Yeah it was great I haven’t played in a while so I was probably sucking in a few big ones out there,” he says. “But yeah it was good to get another run. I got 70 minutes so . . . hopefully if I get a game this week I’ll be better for that.
“I suppose I have been out most of this season so it has just being trying to find some form again and those boys have been in some form.”
Australia’s Tuesday training session will show how much chance Douglas has of making the starting side . It’s a contest, which the players see as a chance to put their hand up for the weekend. A mini trial before the Saturday selection.
“You’ve got to have your training days as your Test matches. You’ve got to go out on a Tuesday and that’s your game for the week if you are not getting picked,” he says.
“A heap of the boys do it like that. We call it Test match Tuesday because we do get stuck into each other. So that’s how we do it. We try and refine those skills we’ve got.”
Cheika might think he can throw Douglas into Saturday’s match in the Aviva Stadium because he may have something to prove to Leinster players and fans, showing he is more of a player than the broken down facsimile of two years ago.
His wife will be there to watch. She is staying with Mike McCarthy and his partner. But Douglas knows a place against Ireland is Cheika saying to him “repay me with a performance”.
“There’s still a fight for positions,” says Douglas. “I try to put my best foot forward. In review of my game I still have things to work on. I think I was stopping and trying to take in a few too many breaths at the weekend. I need to keep on going. It’s just good to get back out there.”