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Dublin: 2°C Sunday 7 March 2021

U20 star Ringrose keeping his head down amidst hype

The 20-year-old Leinster centre is back for his second year of international rugby at this level.

THERE HAS BEEN much excitement in recent years over the potential of outside centre Garry Ringrose, but the man himself is more aware than anyone that a long road lies in front of him.

Garry Ringrose The Aviva Stadium looms beyond Ringrose in Dublin yesterday. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The Dublin native was nominated for the IRB Junior World Player of the Year award after last summer’s JWC in New Zealand, where three tries in five starts and the general all-round quality of his play brought him into the wider Irish rugby consciousness.

Ringrose is now back for his second year with the Ireland U20s, his sharp linebreak and deft offload sending Greg O’Shea over for one of seven tries in a 47-15 win for Nigel Carolan’s men in the opening round of the Six Nations last weekend.

The 20-year-old midfielder has already trained with Joe Schmidt’s Ireland squad, while also featuring for Leinster’s ‘A’ team in this season’s British and Irish Cup.

His remarkable final try and some cool place-kicking helped Blackrock to victory in the 2013 Leinster Schools Senior Cup. Furthermore, he’s now impressing with every outing in the Ulster Bank League.

It’s easy to understand the hype.

The UCD clubman admits it’s been something of a whirlwind two years, but he’s already thinking like a seasoned pro.

It’s brilliant,” says Ringrose. “It’s very exciting, kind hectic but from my point of view, I’m just trying to keep my head down and focus on the next task, the next game. Each training session, take it for what it is and try and be better than when I started.

“There’s a lot going on but in my head it’s quite simple, I’m just focusing on each day.”

Despite the success Ringrose had last season, he says he also “learned a lot of harsh lessons” and underlined that he’s “not going to sit still or get comfortable,” regardless of what he has achieved so far.

Garry Ringrose scores a try Ringrose crosses the whitewash for Leinster 'A' earlier this season. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

The former Blackrock student understands that rugby is all about the collective, and in that sense he is enjoying being part of a relatively new-look Ireland U20 set-up under head coach Nigel Carolan.

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“Obviously Nick [McCarthy] is captain, but there’s a leadership group being put together between about eight or nine of us,” explains Ringrose. “Regardless of me having been there last year, there are a lot of new guys stepping up into leadership roles.

“There’s so much strength in depth in the squad, so your previous experience doesn’t really matter because guys are putting their hands up. Nigel is encouraging the players to do that.

In the video sessions, everyone is piping up. Everyone is having an input, which helps everyone else around them, because you get a different perspective. Personally, I’m just trying to build on last year and see where it takes me.”

Ringrose underlines that involvement in last year’s U20 squad under Mike Ruddock has no bearing on the current season for himself and six other returning players, given that the new crop are of such high quality: “No one’s place is certain.”

Despite the testing weather conditions in Italy last weekend, Carolan’s side showed their attacking ability in running in seven tries, with the highly-rated backline even overcoming a slippery ball to contribute in wide channels.

With the likes of Ringrose, Billy Dardis, Ross Byrne, McCarthy and Jack Owens among that back division, this is a group whose reputations in underage rugby precede them.

For a third time, Ringrose stresses that no player is immune to being dropped, before admitting there is enthusiasm among the backline to get firing at full potential.

Garry Ringrose Ringrose trained with Ireland last November. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“There is a lot of excitement and we enjoy playing together, trying to play as attractive a brand as possible, given the conditions. We are excited but we are keeping our heads down and trying to do the simple things well.”

Ringrose says Byrne at 10 “really takes charge on the pitch,” while also crediting replacement out-half Joey Carberry for making an impact on the wing last weekend in Italy after an unexpected injury to O’Shea.

The reality is that Ireland face a much sterner test of their quality tomorrow night in Athlone [KO 19.05, RTÉ 2] against a French side that also scored seven tries in round one of the Six Nations, overcoming Scotland 47-6.

They’re incredibly physical, big guys,” says Ringrose. “They will run direct at us and try and bully us, but then at the same time they have the ability to play out wide and play around us.

“We’ve individually and collectively looked at what they’re like. They’re very talented so we’re going to have to bring our A game defensively to try and counteract them.”

Ringrose has been doing as much for a few years now, meaning Carolan can rely on his outside centre to lead through his actions.

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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