Monday 22 October 2018

Defeat drives me on

Pain of losing the spur for Leinster ace Ringrose

FOCUS: Gary Ringrose in action for Leinster during the Guinness PRO14 match against Dragons at the RDS. Photo: Sportsfile
FOCUS: Gary Ringrose in action for Leinster during the Guinness PRO14 match against Dragons at the RDS. Photo: Sportsfile

There is a perception out there that Leinster's younger leaders have not had to go through the pain of defeat that builds the character of champions.

Certainly, James Ryan, Jordan Larmour and Andrew Porter have benefited from the foundations put in place.

By now, Garry Ringrose must rank as one of those leaders and a key first-choice member of Ireland's back division. He doesn't see it like that.

"I don't think you would look at it that way," he said.

"I think what we got right last year was how well we got on last year, how well young and old got on, and how they contributed to what happened each weekend and that extended to the 55-odd guys - there could be more - that played.

"It is the same this year. Everyone's point of view matters."

He has known suffering, just not the decade of hurt visited on his predecessor Brian O'Driscoll.

"The game against Connacht at Murrayfield is one that always sticks out to me. It was the first kind of disappointment," he said.

"I was so used to seeing Leinster win. Then, being in the final and losing with Leinster was a shock."

Scuttled

It didn't stop there as Clermont-Auvergne ended Leinster's Champions Cup and Scarlets scuttled their PRO14 aspirations at The RDS, both in 2017.

Backs coach Felipe Contepomi. Photo: Sportsfile
Backs coach Felipe Contepomi. Photo: Sportsfile

"Then, certainly two seasons ago, the two semi-finals that probably ultimately kicked us on to last year and managing to win the double.

"You can never really get too complacent because they still seem pretty fresh, the disappointments.

"That's what keeps us motivated and driven."

There is what each individual has to do to improve and there is what the club can do to accelerate the process.

Felipe Contepomi was a hero in the blue of Leinster and a villain to Ireland in the blue and white of the Pumas.

The Buenos Aires native has taken his mercurial mind back to his old club to add another dimension.

The freshening up of resources changing Contepomi for Girvan Dempsey, now at Bath, brings another angle to the coaching conversations.

"I remember catching the tail end of his time here so it's pretty cool getting the chance to work alongside him," said Garry Ringrose.

"You hear players talk about the kind of guy he was, how hard he trained and worked.

"Then, obviously, as a supporter getting to see him on the pitch, it's amazing to actually get to work with him on a daily basis."

Ringrose is a student of the game with a meticulous, detail-based mind for seeing and interpreting the information relayed.

He leaves no stone unturned.

"It's brilliant just having a fresh set of eyes in video sessions and then on the pitch as well," stated the 23-year-old.

"Some of the messages simplify some elements and gets you to think pretty hard about other aspects.

"He's just kinda challenging us and that tests us in different scenarios to see if we can adapt when the picture changes. He's been really good at coaching that so far."

Importance

The half-century of Leinster caps have been collected in double-quick time, given his importance to Ireland, winning 14 caps in the last two seasons.

"Thinking back to the (PRO14) final last year, I remember looking forward to it because I was quietly excited for my 50th cap," he said.

"When you start off, coming out of the Academy, in someone like Hughie O'Sullivan's position or Caelan Doris', who had their first time at the RDS on Saturday, you don't think you'll get to 50, or you think that it's miles away.

"And then all of a sudden it's gone like that," he said.

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