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Monday 24 July 2017

Shane: Garry is only going to get better

Ringrose, 22, has more room to improve than Joseph, 25

Leinster’s Garry Ringrose on his way to scoring a superb solo try during the Champions Cup semi-final against Clermont in Lyon. Pics: Sportsfile
Leinster’s Garry Ringrose on his way to scoring a superb solo try during the Champions Cup semi-final against Clermont in Lyon. Pics: Sportsfile
Hat-trick hero Brian O’Driscoll celebrates a famous Irish victory over France in 2000

When it comes to his elegant, gliding style, Garry Ringrose is much more reminiscent of Brendan Mullin than Brian O'Driscoll.

When it comes to the trajectory of their careers, it is then the roads of Ringrose and O'Driscoll take on a strange symmetry.

For instance, neither O'Driscoll or Ringrose were guaranteed gold from their schoolboy days at Blackrock College.

The breakthrough into the national conscience came through their foray into the Age Grade international ar ena.

For O'Driscoll, it came at the 1998 U19 World Cup where Ireland scuppered the hosts France 18-0 to emerge as the champions.

They both moved on to UCD from Blackrock College where O'Driscoll tore the All-Ireland League apart in the 1998-99 season.

Prodigy

From there, the prodigy was outed and made rapid progress.

"He went straight into the senior squad and didn't look back," said former Ireland U19 team-mate Adrian Flavin of his recollection of that time.

"The story goes that many Irish players saw him at his first training session and thought 'Who is this kid?'

"By the end of it, everyone was saying 'Bloody hell, who is he?'"

The world soon found out.

The debut was made against Australia in June 1999, before he even played for Leinster, the hat-trick was sealed at Stade de France in 2000, the British & Lion roared to that signature try in the first test at The Gabba in 2001.

The legend was born and the consistency continued all the way through to his retirement in 2014 when the Six Nations and PRO12 title were the pillars of his final fond farewell that May.

One month later, the taller, slighter Ringrose exploded into the U20 World Cup with three tries and a Player of the Tournament Nomination as Ireland reached the semi-final for the first time.

He had to wait until September of 2015 to make his Leinster debut in the PRO12.

His impact was such that the thoughtful former Ireland wing Shane Horgan called for Ringrose's promotion as a centre who could change the way Ireland play.

Eighteen months later, Ireland's outside centre, due to Jared Payne's misfortune with injury, outplayed England's Jonathan Joseph in the Six Nations and Elliot Daly in The Champions Cup quarter-final to stand a chance of what Jonathan Sexton would call 'becoming a Lion.'

Ultimately, Joseph and Daly convinced coach Warren Gatland in a way Ringrose didn't.

Then came that try against Clermont-Auvergne in Lyon.

"The events of that Sunday would probably affect everybody's view of Garry," said Horgan.

"Some of the question marks around him have been around his defence.

"Physically, there is a worry that he's not capable of coping with the sort of punishment he might take.

"I think he's proven that's not correct.

"He's proven that he's consistently able to really punch above his weight.

"I do think Joseph is an excellent player.

"His footwork is very good. He's properly quick. He defends pretty intelligently actually.

"He keeps one eye on the ball when he's defending on that up-and-in and picks up a lot of interceptions."

There is the question which is better - Ringrose or Joseph? - and which will be better in time.

"I think Garry will continue to improve. He's still very young in his career," said Horgan.

"Joseph is a little more advanced and, maybe, has less room for improvement.

"What Garry has is that he is in a team with Ireland, but, certainly, more starkly, with Leinster is a team playing with a very attacking philosophy.

"It suits his game perfectly," stated Horgan.

"He's playing with a ten who wants to put the ball in his hands.

"That changes the game entirely.

"The more influence he can have on the game, the more influential he becomes."

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