Ireland’s Caelan Doris admits nerves sunk in with armband on against Italy
He didn’t look or play like a man who was feeling the nerves, but the Ireland captain admitted that his heart was beating that little bit faster as he led his country out for the very first time.
Fresh after taking over the captaincy when Peter O’Mahony went off in Marseille on Friday, February 2, Andy Farrell selected Doris to lead Ireland from the start for Sunday’s 36-0 win over Italy.
“Definitely more nerves than usual,” Doris said.
“I got to a point where I’m usually fairly calm on game day and looking forward to it, but yeah, more nerves today for sure,” he added before Farrell jokingly interjected: “And by the way, Pete was s******g himself last week as well!”
Playing out of position on the openside, Doris led from the front on what was a hugely special occasion for himself and his family.
Captaining Ireland in front of a packed Aviva Stadium, things couldn’t have gone much better as the 25-year-old, who is seen as the long-term successor to O’Mahony, savoured the moment.
“Special, and knowing the group we have makes it all the more special,” Doris continued.
“We’re a very tight-knit group, this group has largely been together for the guts of four years plus now.
“The relationships we have are special, and the environment that Faz and Gary (Keegan) and all the coaches have set about, being ourselves and being vulnerable, makes my job easier and made it easier this week.
“I leaned heavily on the other lads as well, and from a personal point of view, I hope all the people who have been involved from Ballina, the whole way to Blackrock, all the way, take a little bit of pride from this and from seeing me captain the country today, so I’m delighted with it.”
As for the overall team performance, Doris echoed Farrell’s sentiments in how pleased he was to keep Italy scoreless.
With the set-piece firing, Ireland’s attack humming and the defence passing up few opportunities, it was a good day at the office.
“Pretty happy, yeah,” Doris added.
“The way we started was pleasing, keeping them to zero was definitely very pleasing given the quality of their attack.
“It was something we talked about during the week, they’ve a lot of structure in their attack and they’ve got threats throughout, so I don’t think it’s a mean feat keeping them to zero, and we’re happy with that, definitely.
“We were talking on the way in here, there was probably 20, 30 minutes where we went a little bit away from our structure, went a little bit ahead of ourselves at times and were maybe forcing things a little bit too desperately.
“But overall, 36-0, scoring quite a few tries, two disallowed as well, keeping them to zero as well, yeah, pretty pleasing overall.”