Sean Dougall the Scottish born, English educated, Irish qualified open-side flanker is a man on the way up. The Rotherham Titans 22 year old flanker recently signed a one year deal to move to Munster at the end of the season. The move is an exciting one for Sean who represented Ireland at Under 18 and 19s level before a shoulder injury took him out of the game for almost 2 seasons. It is also a chance for Dougall to move back to Ireland where he previously had a 2 year spell with Ulster Academy.
Sean, however, is under no illusions that his time with Rotherham and the work Andre Bester, Titans Head Coach, has done with him since joining the club has been instrumental in getting his game confidence back and moving his skill level up a notch.
“After missing two years of rugby with my shoulder injury, I knew it was going to be hard to get back into the game mentally and physically but Andre pushed me to have confidence in my shoulder and helped me to be more physical as a player. My ball carrying was not one of my strengths but Andre has worked on this with me and although I still have plenty of work to do I do feel that I’ve added ball carrying to my all round game.
Last pre-season Andre made it clear that if I was going to make an impact in the championship I would need to bulk up, so I started working hard in the gym which I feel, has paid off on the pitch.”
Dougall will join a very strong Munster back row but, whilst he acknowledges that it will be tough to break into the starting XV, he feels that his game can only improve by training and playing in such a competitive environment. “The chance to train and play with the likes of David Wallace is another great opportunity and will improve aspects of my game as well as hopefully adding attributes that I never had before.
To play for like a team like Munster has always been an aspiration of mine. With the culture and ethos they have over there I knew it was a fantastic opportunity”
The importance of having a proper open-side flanker on the pitch is one that is being hotly debated internationally and Dougall feels that his strength in defence and the fact that he is a seven will help him step up when his chance comes, “the role of an out and out seven has become an important part of any team and as an out and out 7 myself I hope that I can add value to the line-up such as being strong in defence, slowing opposition ball, creating turnovers and acting as a link player.”
Whilst more international recognition would obviously be extremely welcome, Sean isn’t getting carried away, he knows that his main priority in the forthcoming season is to work hard, improve his game and try to break into the starting XV. He maintains that “whatever happens in terms of representative honours is a massive bonus but I am under no illusions and I know I first have to prove myself at Munster.
I represented Ireland u18s and u19s so playing for Ireland has always been an ambition but I know I have a lot of work to do yet!”
In the meantime Dougall, who has captained the side for much of the season and will continue to do so for the play-offs in the absence of Northampton Saints bound Sam Dickinson, is concentrating on finishing the season in style at Rotherham and repaying Andre Bester’s faith in him with more hard work. Whilst a number of players have been linked to move away from Rotherham next season, Dougall thinks this actually reflects very positively on Bester and the work the coaching staff do “obviously the ideal scenario for any club to develop year on year would be to keep a core squad and add players each year however the fact that a lot of the lads have moved on means that good players will always want to come to Rotherham and work with Andre.
This has to be positive for the club and there are also a lot of good players who will still be at Rotherham next year to build on this season.”