The No 9 is following in the footsteps of his father, Neil

Hotshot: Ulster scrum-half Nathan Doak 

Date of birth 17 December 2001 Born Belfast Position Scrum-half Province Ulster Country Ireland

When did you first play rugby? 

Aged 12 at Wallace High School. I loved it straightaway.

My dad (Neil) was a rugby coach at Ulster so I was always watching games and I had a vision of being like him, but it was only when I went to Wallace that I gave rugby a go.

Did you play any other sports? 

Football and cricket. I was an all-rounder for Ireland up until I was 16, then I had to decide on rugby or cricket. My dad played cricket for Ireland and rugby for Ulster. There was always something bringing me back to rugby and I wanted to say I’d played for Ulster like my dad.

What positions have you played? 

I played ten up until I was maybe 15-16. When I came into Ulster Academy they didn’t have a nine so the coach at the time, Kieran Campbell, who had played with my dad, moved me there. Ever since I’ve been chopping and changing between nine and ten, then I’ve been fully focused on nine since last year.

What do you like about scrum-half? 

You’ve got to do everything – pass, kick, run, tackle. Nine also allows me to express myself. My kicking is probably my biggest strength while, having not grown up playing nine, passing is something I always work on.

Who was your childhood hero? 

Cristiano Ronaldo. I’m a Man United fan and would play a lot of football in the garden, me and my brother arguing over who’d be Ronaldo.

What are your goals for this season? 

To play as much as I can and when I get an opportunity to put my best foot forward.

Is it good to have John Cooney at Ulster? 

We get on well – we’re always getting at each other about football! He’s been great to me; it’s great to work with him.

Who has been the biggest influence on your career? 

Mum and Dad. They’ve always backed me, whether in rugby or out of rugby. Their confidence gave me a lot of belief.

RW Verdict: His performances in the U20 Six Nations saw Rory Best describe Doak as a “fantastic talent” and the scrum-half looks to have the potential to not only emulate his dad’s career but also make that step up to Test rugby.

This article originally appeared in Rugby World’s November 2021 edition.

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