Jared Payne impressed by Nathan Doak’s Ulster impact
Three tries in two games, two man of the match performances in two starts and a 100 per-cent success rate of the kicking tee has already seen 19-year-old Nathan Doak enter the debate for selection in Andy Farrell’s Ireland autumn test squad.
The son of former Ulster scrum-half and coach Neil has been instrumental in Ulster taking a maximum 15 points from 15 in their opening three United Rugby Championship games, and he will again start in the No9 shirt for the visit of the Emirate Lions to Kingspan Stadium on Friday night (7.35pm).
Ulster defence coach and former British Lions centre Jared Payne has been surprised by how quickly Doak has adopted to the professional game.
“He was floating around a bit last year with us, he was decent at training, but I couldn’t have picked that he has done as well as he has,” explained Payne.
“He’s got a great feel for the game and that’s probably come from his old man. He’s been around rugby a lot growing up, so he naturally makes good decisions.
“He’s got a good understanding for the game, a good feel for the game and he’s got some pretty tremendous athletic ability to back that up in terms of his kicking game, and I think he’s a lot quicker than people give him credit for - he covers the ground pretty well.
“I never would have picked him doing as well as he has but I think it’s a credit to the time that he’s put in with his old man and being around good environments, and picking up some good stuff along the way, so fair play.”
Dan McFarland keeps faith with the same starting line-up that secured the bonus point over Benetton in Belfast last Friday.
Lock Kieran Treadwell has recovered from injury and will make his first appearance of the season after being named among the replacements.”
Michael Lowry is in line to win a 50th cap for the province from the bench.
It will be Ulster’s first ever meeting with the Lions.
The South African side reached three consecutive Super Rugby finals between 2016 and 2018 but lost them all to New Zealand opposition.
The Lions won their first ever URC game beating Zebre with a bonus point but have lost to Scarlets and Glasgow in their two most recent outings.
Ulster team to play Emirates Lions, United Rugby Championship Round 4, Friday 15 October at Kingspan Stadium, 7.35pm kick-off, live on BBC Two NI/ RTÉ/Premier Sports: (15-9) Will Addison, Craig Gilroy, James Hume, Stewart Moore, Ethan McIlroy, Billy Burns, Nathan Doak; (1-8) Andrew Warwick, Rob Herring, Tom O’Toole, Alan O’Connor, Sam Carter (Capt.), Matty Rea, Nick Timoney, David McCann.
Replacements: Brad Roberts, Eric O’Sullivan, Ross Kane, Kieran Treadwell, Sean Reidy, David Shanahan, Mike Lowry, Ben Moxham.