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Caelan Doris says he's in a better place following the head injury concerns that saw him miss last year's Six Nations. 

The Leinster back-row forward suffered a knock to the head in an Ireland training game with Ulster, that ultimately led to him requiring specialist attention.

“I had been a little bit worried about some symptoms at that stage," Doris said back in the autumn.

“The medical staff were very accommodating in getting me seen by the best people. So, I got the battery of tests — everything from cognitive to balance to brain scans, bloods, everything.

“My initial cognitive testing was pretty good, a little bit down. Then I did another one a couple of weeks later and it was further up, so it probably was a little bit down from the knock.

Doris is now in fine fettle, so much so that he's been nominated for EPCR European Player of the Year for his performances with Leinster.

A starting berth against Wales on Saturday also seems highly likely, which is a world removed from concerns over short-term memory loss and cognitive issues.

"Yeah, I'm in a way better place than this time last year," Doris told OTB Sports on Tuesday, "much more comfortable with it all.

"I've had a pretty clean season so far this year, and hopefully it will continue. Touch wood."

Asked if those issues remain a lingering concern, Doris replied, "Having those testing (sic) definitely helps with that - gives me peace of mind.

"It's still sometimes there, but no, it's much less than it was last year."

Good pictures

Not only is Doris in a better place than 12-months ago, it's a trait shared by the Ireland team as a whole.

A strong finish to last year's Six Nations - coupled with an unblemished autumn series - means any lingering doubts over the Andy Farrell regime are thing of the past.

"The understanding of the game plan was huge for us," said Doris, "I think that was probably where we evolved most from Six Nations last year to November.

"The connections out the back of shapes, and understanding when we might be playing out the back of shape and being ready and prepared for that. I think we've come on a fair bit in that, and it's sort of still an evolving process.

"We still need to get better at reading each others cues, and being ready to play front-door and back-door.

"In terms of how we're going to continue to grow... probably our defence was inconsistent. It was good at times, definitely.

"We talk about being brave, and even when the picture is imperfect - and we might be numbers down - to still wanting to show good pictures in terms of our line-speed, and getting off the line.

"There's still lots of micro details between attack and 'D' where we'll be looking to keep evolving."

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“Say thank you and then ask for the next thing” – Ciara Grant – COYGIG Podcast

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