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Sunday 25 September 2016

Ringrose plays the diplomat

More than provincial pride is at stake for Blues star and Marshall

Garry Ringrose fields questions during yesterday’s Leinster press conference (SPORTSFILE)
Garry Ringrose fields questions during yesterday’s Leinster press conference (SPORTSFILE)

Garry Ringrose could just have a future in politics.

He side-stepped his way around pointed questions with graceful ease like he would a wrong-footed defender.

The hot topic of whether to completely scrap the three-year residency rule enabling overseas players to line out for international rugby or to simply extend the time capsule to, say, five years could directly impinge on his Ireland career.

Specifically, the qualification of flavour-of-the-season Bundee Aki for Ireland will mean an extra body in the way for Ringrose.

"I try not to think about it too much. There's two ways of looking at it," said the 21 year-old.

"As a player, I want to be competitive and try to reach the highest point possible, which would be to play for Ireland, and that would be an ambition of mine. It's going to be competitive regardless.

"The other half of me is just as much of an Ireland fan as you (the media) are and if Bundee playing would contribute to Ireland's success, then I'd be all for it."

More immediately, the Leinster outside centre will have to cope with his first PRO12 League semi-final on Friday night.

The coaches and players will have to call on all their know-how to overturn that emphatic 30-6 defeat to Ulster at Ravenhill. This time, they will have the backing of The RDS, which can make all the difference.

"Any little fine margin that we can gain from home advantage, we'll take," said Ringrose.

"I was told that there's over 19,000 tickets sold so we've to do our best to turn 24 points around from playing in the cauldron that was Ravenhill.

"Going on the last result, it probably won't count for much because they're such a formidable team at the moment."

Stake

There is everything at stake collectively for the provinces and individually for Ringrose as he confronts another Ireland hopeful Luke Marshall.

"Obviously, Luke is someone who has got injuries over the years that have hindered him," he said.

"Now, he's probably playing some of the best rugby of his life and is one of the best centres in Ireland at the moment.

The inter-provincial angle will be a factor.

"There's an edge to the games that's hard to describe," he said.

"When it's team-mates who are friends with regards to Ireland and then provinces, the prides collide and there is that extra edge and physicality to it.

"It brings the best out of everyone."

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