Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 September 2014

Flanker Doyle fires warning

Raring to go: Ulster's Sean Doyle is determined to make an impact against Leinster at Ravenhill tomorrow evening after returning from a broken leg

While the name is hardly that familiar, at least we know that Sean Doyle has a sense of humour.

And after missing virtually all of last season rehabbing a broken leg picked up playing in an AIL game for Dungannon – and this after Doyle had already made three decent appearances in Ulster's opening PRO12 programme of last season – the Australian-born, but Irish qualified, flanker has certainly needed to fall back on the need to have a laugh about things.

During last month's team-building trip to Donegal Town – when the squad were asked to make their own way without using their own transport and were also set a series of unusual and head-turning tasks – it was Doyle who appeared on the balcony of a well-known Belfast bar in broad daylight wearing only a pair of skimpy swimming trunks.

In fairness, the openside flanker had prop Richard Lutton alongside him but the said swimwear just happened to have been supplied courtesy of Doyle.

"The challenge was to get the most outrageous photo and I always take my trunks everywhere, you just never know when you're going to need them.

"So I chucked them on and Ricky (Lutton) grabbed a pair as well so we got on the balcony and, yes, we stopped a lot of traffic.

"It was a bit of fun," a smiling Doyle states.

So was his tweet after Tom Court was called up to the British and Irish Lions when Doyle wondered if Warren Gatland knew that he too was on holiday back home in Australia and if there was any chance of the 24-year-old Sydney native accompanying Court even as a waterboy.

"He (Court) played his cards right and got the call-up and I put a bit of a tweet out there," Doyle says before delivering the punch-line. "But I missed the boat even though I thought I was a shoo-in."

He was there, though, to watch the first Test in Brisbane when, clad in a Wallaby shirt, there was some banter to be had with Rory Best at the side of the pitch.

But, of course, there is a very serious side to Doyle when it comes to playing and as a natural seven he is quick over the ground and a presence at the breakdown.

Even though he was only here on trial with Ulster and played in a mere three PRO12 League games before fracturing his fibula – bizarrely he was not initially aware of the seriousness of the injury after making his AIL debut for Dungannon at the start of last October – the hard-working Doyle had made the right impression and was offered a contract before season's end.

"Last season I ended up watching the big games from the stands and that's not what I want to do," says the former A-squad player for the Waratahs and Western Force.

"We've got a lot of competition here in the back row and that's really pushing me.

"I came over wanting to play rugby and you want to do your bit," he adds, while explaining that the complex nature of the leg break kept him out for longer than anticipated due to the need for surgery and the insertion of a plate.

"Hopefully I'll now stay injury free and be able to put pressure on the rest of the back rowers and if it doesn't benefit me it will benefit the team," Doyle says.

"And if you play well you don't know what will happen," Doyle added knowing that tomorrow night's friendly with Leinster is a great chance to reward Ulster's faith.

And while he's working hard, there is bound to be more humour.

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