Irish loosie pips Eben Etzebeth for Autumn Nations Player of the Series award | Sport


Ireland loose forward Caelan Doris. (Photo By Harry Murphy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth narrowly missed out on being crowned the Autumn Nations Player of the Series.

Etzebeth was one of six players nominated for the award, with rugby fans given the chance to vote for their best players on the international stage in the November Test window.

Ireland loose forward Caelan Doris won gold with 26% of the votes, followed by Etzebeth with 22%.

The other players on the list were England fullback Freddie Steward (20%), France scrumhalf Antoine Dupont (14%), England flyhalf Marcus Smith (10%) and France pivot Romain Ntamack (8%).

Etzebeth was colossal for the Boks in their tour wins over Wales (23-18) and Scotland (30-15), as well as the 27-26 defeat to England.

Against Scotland, Etzebeth made the most runs with ball in hand (12) and was also the joint-highest for most tackles (7), while against Wales he made the second-most tackles in the side (9) and the second-most carries (7).

He kept his best for last, though, as he made a team-high seven carries for 46 metres against England, while he also made 13 tackles.

But voters opted for 23-year-old Doris, who started the campaign at blindside flank in Ireland’s comprehensive 60-5 victory over Japan, making 11 carries for 39 metres and also contributing nine tackles – more than any of his team-mates.

The official Autumn Nations Series website described Doris’ performances as follows: “His pièce de resistance was the performance in the historic 29-20 victory over the All Blacks as he popped up everywhere to complete 12 tackles, carry for 84 metres and beat two defenders.

“He also scored Ireland’s all-important third try after the break, stepping inside and racing through a gap in the wall of black shirts to run the ball in from just outside the New Zealand 22.

“In fact, so good was his display at the Aviva Stadium that evening, it earned him the Player of the Match award in what was only Ireland’s third-ever win over New Zealand.

“Even switching to No 8 in the absence of injured Jack Conan for Ireland’s final Autumn Nations Series game did not slow him down, rising to the occasion again against Argentina.

“Doris scored his second try in as many games as Ireland prevailed 53-7 in Dublin, covering another 58 metres with ball in hand and finishing the game with 11 carries.

“All in all, Doris made 36 carries across the Autumn Nations Series – more than any other player – while he also hit a joint-high 99 rucks as his relentless engine drove Ireland forward.”

Etzebeth, meanwhile, has been ruled out of rugby for his club Toulon until at least February next year due to concussion.

Earlier this month, the burly lock also made headlines after his surprise omission for the World Rugby Player of the Year nominations.

Player of the Series vote:

Caelan Doris (Ireland) – 26%
Eben Etzebeth (South Africa) – 22%
Freddie Steward (England) – 20%
Antoine Dupont (France) – 14%
Marcus Smith (England) – 10%
Romain Ntamack (France) – 8%

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