Friday 15 December 2017

Ringrose looks to be blues' centre of excellence

Young Garry is willing to wait his turn for Irish debut

Garry Ringrose during Leinster training this week. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Garry Ringrose during Leinster training this week. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Leinster Rugby stars, from left, Garry Ringrose, Ross Molony and Josh van der Flier are joined by Caoimhe Power, age 16, Navan RFC, and Sean Dunne, 3rd from left, age 16, Lansdowne FC, at Donnybrook Stadium to mark the launch of the Bank of Ireland Leinster Rugby School of Excellence which will run in The King’s Hospital School, Palmerstown in July and August. Photo: Sportsfile

So this is Garry Ringrose.

Humble. Polite. The definition of deferential. He wouldn't say boo to a billy-goat.

The rising star of Leinster rugby was finally released for media activity yesterday.

There is something of the precious gem about the golden boy centre, tutored by Leinster's Leo Cullen, protected by Ireland's Joe Schmidt.

The 21-year-old has been exposed to the light of day in the PRO12 League 15 times this season, 14 from the start, and twice in the Champions Cup, once from the outset.

There has been a steady introduction to the professional game where the outside centre is often double-jobbing as the best defender and the best attacker in the system.

It is a demanding place to play.

He has had quite the experience of playing against the full gammut of centres.

"I suppose Regan King was one player who I learnt a few harsh lessons off at the start," he said.

"I just think he's an incredibly talented centre and has a lot of experience under his belt. It was cool to play against him.

"I mean the likes of Jonathan Joseph as well for Bath, seeing how well he's performing for England. It was a great experience to play against himself and (Kyle) Eastmond."

On home soil in Galway last week, he was on the end of a double-dose of Connacht's dynamic duo Bundee Aki and Robbie Henshaw, his likely partner-in-crime and punishment from next season.

"I try and build and learn as much as possible off playing against players like that.

"These are guys that have achieved a lot and careers like theirs, I'd love to follow and emulate."

Shane Horgan pushed for Ringrose's inclusion in the Six Nations, claiming he could change the way Ireland attack.

Seán O'Brien defended the national strategy last week, certain in his opinion Ringrose was not ready just yet.

The centre sensation is as good at avoiding questions that tempt slightly controversial answers as his side-stepping of defenders.

What about the calls for him to play in the Six Nations? "I suppose it's pretty cool," he offered.

"I think my grandparents get a bit more enjoyment out of it than I do.

"I just kind of focus on, as much as possible, the opinions of coaches and then the senior players at Leinster and try keep the feet to the ground and not look too far ahead."

The beauty of the IRFU policy is that it is about survival of the best rather than the fittest.

The latest episode on his journey from schoolboy to senior international will happen on Saturday when Munster will come to the Aviva with passion in their eyes, fire in the bellies and four points on their agenda.


It should resemble his Thomond Park experience for intensity.

"Thinking back now it was probably the biggest crowd I'd played in front of," he stated.

"There was that moment when Munster ran out and the whole place shook and that was an amazing experience."

The national stadium, home advantage and the appetite for the Leinster-Munster inter-provincial match-up will make for high-grade entertainment and car-crash collisions.

"We were told there that over 40,000 tickets have been sold," he said.

"It will be pretty incredible to be involved in it and play against a Munster side that will want to right a few wrongs after the result in Thomond Park.

"It should be a collision course and a close game," he enthused.

You couldn't point an accusatory finger in the direction of the kid for dreaming of South Africa in June or the All Blacks at Soldier Field in Chicago.

For now, he is more about being rooted in the here and now than reaching out to future possibilities.

"It wouldn't be at the forefront of my priorities in focusing on what I haven't achieved," he said.

"I'm over the moon to get the opportunity I have this year so far in the Pro12.

"Five months ago, I wouldn't have predicted I would have got over 15 caps for Leinster. I kind of try and focus on the positives."

There are a lot of them.

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