One of the ‘fringe benefits’ of the Qantas Wallabies’ horrific injury toll through 2012 was the rise of KANE DOUGLAS as a Test performer.
The 2.01m tall second rower was propelled into the Test XV for the match against Argentina on the Gold Coast and performed with such aplomb that he featured in five of the last seven Tests for the year, being ruled out of the two in between for personal reasons.
He continued his run of Tests in 2013, partnering Wallabies captain James Horwill in the second row for all three fixtures against the British & Irish Lions.
Establishing a Test place was the logical next step in the career of the 24-year-old, who has been a regular figure for the NSW Waratahs since his debut five years ago, despite competing for a place at all times with established Test second rowers.
A product of the NSW north coast, having been raised in Yamba, Douglas made an immediate impact in his first Super Rugby season in 2010, earning selection for the Australian Barbarians side that played a two-match midweek series against England at the end of that tournament.
Further recognition was gained when he was included among the train on squad for the 2010 Spring Tour, but it took another two seasons of hard toil to crack the international stage. He was included in the Qantas Wallabies training squad for last year’s June Tests and then featured at both of the national training camps that were held prior to The Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship, subsequently edging out the Melbourne Rebels tyros Hugh Pyle and Cadeyrn Neville for a position among the chosen 30, leading to his Test debut.
While not with the Qantas Wallabies last year, Douglas honed his skills by helping his Sydney club, Southern Districts, into its maiden final in the Sydney Shute Shield club competition. Ironically, he missed the decider against Sydney University with the blessing of the club, as that match coincided with his Test debut against Los Pumas.
Douglas represented Australia at the Under-20 Junior World Championship in Japan in 2009, having been recruited for the NSW Academy from rugby league a year earlier. Douglas had previously featured on the books of the Cronulla Sharks club.
Amongst his team-mates in the age-grades at the Sharks was his fellow Waratah and Wallaby second row partner, Sitaleki Timani. It was an injury to Timani which allowed Douglas the chance to make his entry into Test ranks last year.
FAST FACT: Kane Douglas is the second member of his family to have excelled on the national sporting scene. Older brother Luke Douglas is a key forward for the Gold Coast Titans league side in the Australian NRL competition, having appeared for the Cronulla Sharks earlier in his career. By happy coincidence, Kane’s debut for Australia in Test matches occurred at the home ground of his brother’s rugby league club.