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Tuesday 6 December 2016

Joe pulls a 'Ringer'

Schmidt calls Ringrose in ahead of Ulster inside centre Marshall

Garry Ringrose. Photo: Sportsfile
Garry Ringrose. Photo: Sportsfile

Coach Joe Schmidt has made the controversial choice to vouch for Garry Ringrose ahead of Luke Marshall for Ireland's final test of the November series.

Ulster supporters will be mystified at how natural inside centre Marshall has lost out to a 21-year-old starting his second international out of position.

The decision was made based on Schmidt's forensic review which revealed how Ringrose "just did such a good job" against the vaunted All Blacks.

It is an unqualified compliment to the Leinster centre that Schmidt is able to put Ringrose in a position he has little or no experience.

Long-identified as Brian O'Driscoll's natural successor at outside centre, Ringrose has had to bide his time in behind Robbie Henshaw and Jared Payne.

Of course, Schmidt sees the positivity of playing Ringrose inside the intelligent Payne and closer to the protection of his back-row.

"At least at twelve, you're part of a three-man panel and you slide that panel across the pitch and you keep closing doors if you can.

"He's more connected in there," said the coach.

"Physically, it's a great challenge, which we don't want to put too much pressure on him physically.

"But, I think tactically it does allow him a little more certainty."

Schmidt has opted to bring back Paddy Jackson, Iain Henderson and Keith Earls for the injured Jonathan Sexton, Donnacha Ryan and Simon Zebo, who can still make the bench if he proves his fitness.

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