Pursuit of perfection

The Rugby Championship

Take a look around tonight and you might just find yourself sitting next to a member of the Douglas clan, who will be there in numbers to support No.2 son Kane, these days a high performer with the Queensland Reds.

His wife Jennarly no doubt will be there, as will her parents who live nearby on the Gold Coast. And she’ll have in her arms their beautiful nine-month old baby daughter, Cleo.

Father Chris will also be there, making the drive up from nearby Yamba where Kane grew up, and depending on his NRL finals’ commitments so will older brother Luke, who plays for the Gold Coast Titans and proudly holds the record for the most consecutive NRL games (215).

Younger brother Jake, a lock like Kane, might also be there, depending on whether he is playing this weekend for his team, the Greater Sydney Rams, in the Buildcorp National Rugby Championship. One person who won’t be there sadly is his mother Trish who tragically passed away back in 2013, and is still missed every day.

Kane marks the passing of his mum each year on the anniversary by posting much loved photos of her on his Instagram account - @kanedoug. It’s definitely one worth following.

Douglas is a big coastal boy with an even bigger heart, and he will draw tremendous strength from his family at the ground tonight.

All the members of the Douglas clan present will be hoping for one thing – a win for Australia. Ask Kane and he is just as mystified as everybody else about the Wallabies stunning form slump in a six-match losing streak that stretches back to last year’s Rugby World Cup final in England.

“There’s always different people involved,” he begins, before quickly changing course. “I’m not looking to blame anything. But I don’t know. It’s really hard to work out. It feels just as good. It feels like we’re having as much fun . . . we’re enjoying each other’s company and we’re training just as hard. I can’t really put my finger on it. Hopefully we can get those winning ways back.

“I don’t know. You’ve got to keep improving, keep working on things and you’ve got to try and stay ahead of the game. We probably haven’t as other teams have.”

It’s also important to remember that the last six Tests have been against the No.1 ranked team in the world, by a clear margin, New Zealand, and the No.2 team, England. Tonight the Wallabies face No.4 South Africa. Australia are third.

“Obviously the last six games have been three All Blacks games, three English games,” notes the 27-year-old. “We’ve got to be hard on each other, hard on ourselves and I’m sure the results will come. We know we can do it. We are confident. We’re confident about any game.

“Obviously we haven’t got the results but we’re confident in our team’s ability, and our individual ability, that we can get the job done against anyone if we play to our potential.”

It's been a long recovery for Douglas. Photo: ARU Media/Stu WalmsleyPlaying to their potential is something that the Wallabies have not been doing of late, much to the disappointment of the team, coaching staff and their millions of fans across the globe. The lineout, usually a Wallabies strong point, particularly has been under-performing.

“We’re working on it,” says Douglas of the lineout woes. “Whether we change things up or not I’m not too sure. I think we were just a little bit off on some things. Someone’s a bit late or the jump’s not perfect.

“We’re talking the smallest of margins. You’ve got to be right on the money with your lineouts when you’re playing Test footy and we’ve been a bit off. Personally I’ve been a bit off. We just need to keep working hard to try and rectify that and get some better results.”

According to Douglas South Africa pose a very different challenge to the All Blacks.

“They’re still going to be just as physical,” he says. “They’ve got some big guys. They have a different style of playing. Maybe not throw it around as much as the All Blacks but they will be another big challenge – especially in the forward pack.”

Kane Douglas wants to keep improving. Photo: ARU Media/Stu WalmsleyuWhatever the challenge though Douglas puts it into perspective. Despite the latest run of results, he is still loving life with the Wallabies and says the mood in the camp is just the same as when Australia went on their magical run at last year’s RWC.

“I don’t really find it hard,” he says of the last few weeks. “It’s disappointing with the results but we do have such a great job. You get to go and hang out with your mates and train hard and try and do something together. I’m not finding it hard.

“I don’t know if any boys are finding it hard. No one likes losing. We’re trying our very best to get some good results, not just for us but for the supporters. Hopefully we can turn it around this weekend.

“I’m loving every minute of being involved and trying to work towards something.”

He’s also loving life in Brisbane with the Reds, having moved to Queensland after the RWC following a short stint for Leinster in Ireland. Prior to that he was a Waratah mainstay for four years.

Kane Douglas has a new Super Rugby home in Queensland. Photo: Getty Images“Yeah I’m loving it,” he says of his family’s new life. “I hadn’t spent too much time here before we moved. We rented for a little while now we’ve moved into our own house. We’re loving it. It’s a bit quieter than Sydney and pretty relaxed and there are some nice little restaurants and coffee shops.

“It’s not too far from where I grew up in Yamba, in northern NSW.  Yamba is actually closer to Brissy than it is Sydney. I’ve got a little holiday house on the Coast as well that I wouldn’t mind getting to a little bit more. Brissy seemed like a good fit . . . a good move.”

He’s also excited about the Reds line-up for next season with three big new signings.

“Definitely some experience and 'Stilesy' (new Head Coach Nick Stiles) will be great for the team culture,” he says. “Nick grew up with the Reds and he’s very passionate about it. Stephen Moore and George Smith are coming, so obviously there’s a lot of experience. Quade Cooper can be very demanding and lead the troops around the park so that will be good for us. I’m really looking forward to next season.”

On a positive note he also believes the Wallabies aren’t too far from turning things around.

“I think so,” he says. “We’ve just got to get that winning feeling back and hold on to it. We need a win to get us started, but I’m thinking it’s just around the corner. We’re not too far away, that’s for sure.”

All the Douglas clan will be hoping the winning feeling returns for Kane tonight.

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The Springboks program. Photo: Supplied