He could well be the biggest selection gamble in the Wallabies squad, but Kane Douglas couldn’t care less and is ready to repay the enormous faith shown in him by coach Michael Cheika.
Douglas was one of four locks named in the Wallabies’ 31-man squad on Friday for next month’s Rugby World Cup, completing quite a journey for the new Queensland Reds signing this year.
While his selection was widely expected, it’s still sure to raise a few eyebrows given his limited game time since a three-month layoff due to back surgery in April.
The 26-year-old made his first and only appearance of the Wallabies’ winter campaign last weekend when he played just under 20 minutes in the heavy loss to the All Blacks.
Douglas, who is one of 13 Rugby World Cup rookies in the squad, admits to struggling in his first few training sessions back with the Wallabies and said it was great to get back on the field against the Kiwis.
“I was just excited to get a go. I only got about 17 minutes and we were already down a bit already. It was hard, you want to do everything you can at 100 miles an hour but you don’t want to throw yourself out the line trying to do something fancy,” he said.
His selection comes at the expense of 2011 Wallabies’ World Cup captain James Horwill, who had an impressive Rugby Championship campaign.
Douglas will only have the Wallabies’ clash with the United States in Chicago on September 5 under his belt before their World Cup opener against Fiji a couple of weeks later.
The giant lock started the year at Irish club Leinster before cutting ties with them just one year into a three-year deal to return home and reunite with Cheika who coached him in the NSW Waratahs’ Super Rugby title win in 2014.
His move back to Australia followed several chats over the phone with Cheika.
“It was good to know that I was wanted, so I’m happy to be back in the set up,” Douglas said.
“It was an awesome feeling knowing Cheik wanted me.”