The young centre trained with the senior team during the Six Nations. Cathal Noonan/INPHO
staying grounded

'My grandparents get more enjoyment out of it' - Ringrose blocking out talk of Ireland call-up

The Leinster centre admits he couldn’t have imagined his meteoric rise.

FOR ALL THE clamour and comparisons, Garry Ringrose has remained admirably humble and grounded.

The calls for the 21-year-old to be included in Joe Schmidt’s squad for the Six Nations grew louder with each passing week but the young centre insists he’s taken no notice of what is being said.

Brian O’Driscoll has previously lent his support to the campaign for Ringrose’s inclusion in the national team but the player himself believes he’s actually ahead of schedule.

“It wouldn’t be at the forefront of my priorities,” he said of breaking into Schmidt’s squad. “Not focusing on what I haven’t achieved. 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 so I kind of try and focus on the positives.

“I suppose it’s pretty cool [all the talk]. I think my grandparents get a bit more enjoyment out of it than I do, and I just kind of focus on, as much as possible, the opinions of coaches and then the senior players at Leinster.

Leinster Rugby School of Excellence Launch Ringrose was on hand yesterday to launch the Leinster Rugby School of Excellence. Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE / SPORTSFILE

“I try keep the feet to the ground and not look too far ahead, just focus on each week and each game.”

Ringrose has been earmarked as a prodigious talent since impressing at underage level and the comparisons, as a skillful centre, to O’Driscoll were natural, if not a little burdensome.

The transition and step-up into professional rugby has been seamless but the idea of accelerating his development by dropping him into the deep end was, in hindsight, ill-judged.

Schmidt was criticised for overlooking arguably one of the brightest young talents in the country but, as Sean O’Brien noted last week, Ringrose isn’t quite physically mature enough for the demands of the international game yet.

“I suppose it has definitely been a step up, kind of going from U20s and then into profession rugby,” he continued. “But with the progression from U20s and then into it now it’s kind of constantly been building, so I feel I’ve certainly managed it okay.

“But it’s personally just size and physicality along with several other attributes that I’d be looking to improve across the board. I wouldn’t just narrow in on that.”

Having burst onto the scene with Leinster this term, the former Blackrock College student has established himself in a midfield pairing with Ben Te’o and is set to make his 16th Pro12 appearance against Munster this weekend.

Garry Ringrose on the attack The UCD student has scored two tries this season. Donall Farmer / INPHO Donall Farmer / INPHO / INPHO

The debate over his international credentials will be rekindled before the summer tour of South Africa but Ringrose insists he remains fully focused on making progress at provincial level.

“I’ve learned a few harsh lessons throughout but it has improved me as a player,” the in-form outside centre added. “Playing in my first season at a professional level, I have picked up a few things I wouldn’t have known. I’m happy with how things are going and just keep on trying to improve, week on week.”

Ringrose was exposed to national camp when he was asked to train with the squad by Schmidt, an experience he describes as ‘pretty cool’ and hugely valuable.

“Joe would have encouraged me to relish any opportunity I get with Leinster and he’s very supportive of certain areas and pitched areas that needed improving.

“He would have coached a lot of the senior players at Leinster and the coaches there would have close contact with him so he said to use them as tools to improve as much as possible and go from there and focus on that.

“To be honest it’s the least of my worries at the moment [going to South Africa]. I kind of haven’t really been thinking that far ahead, just been focusing on each game as it comes and focusing on Munster now this weekend.”

Each time he takes to the field, Ringrose’s every move is under the microscope and his performances analysed by fans and media alike.

This Saturday, he’s set to showcase his wares at the national stadium for the first time in a hugely important interprovincial derby.

Garry Ringrose chased by Jack O'Donoghue Billy Stickland / INPHO Billy Stickland / INPHO / INPHO

“It will certainly be the biggest crowd I’ve played in front of and the first time in the Aviva if I was playing so I think it will be as tough a challenge as every other game I’ve played in in the Pro12 so far but would be a pretty cool one to be involved in.

“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.”

After watching previous meetings between the two rivals as a fan down through the years, Ringrose admits it’s all still a bit surreal to find himself in the heat of the battle – but his level-headed disposition has thought him to savour every moment.

“A little bit surreal but definitely excited,” the UCD student says of Saturday’s game. “It’s kind of games like I would have watched when I was younger and gone to and to be part of it is pretty cool and a dream come true which would be the only way to describe it.

“I try not to get too nervous, which is never easy waking up with butterflies the morning of the game but I suppose just be grateful of the opportunity if I get it.”

Garry Ringrose, Josh van der Flier and Ross Molony were joined by Caoimhe Power (16, Navan RFC) and Sean Dunne (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. Click here for more information.

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