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Ringrose keeping a level head before second season with Leinster

The 21-year-old feels his studies are as important as rugby.

GARRY RINGROSE HAS as mature a head as you’re likely to find on 21-year-old shoulders.

The Leinster centre has already been at the centre of a maelstrom of hype demanding his inclusion in Joe Schmidt’s Ireland squad, and expectations around him are likely to continue to grow during the upcoming campaign.

Garry Ringrose Ringrose starts at 13 for Leinster against Gloucester today. Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

A nominee for World Rugby Junior Player of the Year in 2014, Ringrose could be forgiven for having a hint of cockiness in his demeanour. Indeed, a bit of a swagger might even be welcomed. You almost think it might be good for him.

Not a hint of it. The Dublin man is polite, composed and happy to have a quick chat after the dictaphones are turned off. Refreshingly, and despite the promising future ahead of him, Ringrose realises that rugby isn’t everything in life.

Heading into the fourth year of his Business and Law degree in UCD, Ringrose points out that “it’s important to keep on top of that,” as well as looking to add to his 20 starts for Leinster.

Last year, head coach Leo Cullen indicated that he had held Ringrose back from the Champions Cup action in order to allow the outside centre to complete exams without additional pressure.

Leo is very supportive like that and all the Leinster staff are, because unfortunately in the game of rugby it can end with injury. So, it’s important in my mind to make sure I keep that ticking over and it’s also important for them.”

Perhaps Ringrose’s desire to forge a future outside of rugby explains his relative patience. The Leinster man has rejected a number of chances to put himself forward as being ready for Test rugby in the past year, when others in his position might have done so.

“It’s a bit of experience I suppose,” says the centre. “My dad, who played club rugby, his rugby playing finished pretty quickly because he got injured badly.

“He would have had that experience himself and it would be important for my mum as well that I finish through that degree. It’s a bit of experience and being sensible as well, trying to do both at the same time and putting as much effort into both. It’s definitely do-able.”

Leinster Rugby Rapeseed Photography Ringrose with Robbie Henshaw and Josh van der Flier in the new Leinster alternate kit. Source: SPORTSFILE

Ringrose doesn’t lack ambition in rugby, however, and he certainly looks to have the ability to feature for Ireland in the future.

He says he did his best not to focus on of the hype last season, instead reminding himself to have a “growth mindset” as he attempted to build his game.

Much of the focus on Ringrose tends to be on his undoubtedly sharp footwork, dart of pace and ability to spot gaps. But his work in defence has been equally impressive for Leinster, with his reading of the game standing out and now being backed up by moments of impactful contact.

It’s game by game that you learn something new and especially at 13, because it can be a difficult position to defend in. You learn something new and you’re shown a new picture in every game, even every training session,” says Ringrose with a knowing smile.

“It’s just about trying to pick that up and hold onto that as much as you can, then put it into practice at the next opportunity. You’re always presented with something new, but the experiences help you handle them a little better.”

There has been much talk of Ringrose’s physical stature in the early stages of his senior professional career too.

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The 6ft 1ins centre reckons he has added between two and four kilos to his frame since this time last year, but he has no intention of ballooning into a blocky 100kg+ midfielder.

“I’ve certainly never been picked for being a battering ram or having a big physical element, but I suppose I’d like to try and be an intelligent centre,” says Ringrose.

Leinster’s Garry Ringrose is tackled by Connacht’s Robbie Henshaw Ringrose is tackled by Henshaw in last season's Pro12 final. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“That’s worked for other centres around the world, so I wouldn’t be too focused on trying to become a huge, big centre. I wouldn’t want it to compromise some of the reasons I’ve got to the position I’m in.

“It’s kind of a balancing act in trying to grow all aspects of my game, as well as not losing sight of what some of my strengths are.”

Ringrose’s season starts in the 13 shirt in today’s friendly clash with Gloucester in Tallaght Stadium [KO 3pm] and he seems content to go about his business quietly, learning all the time.

He’ll let others do the promotion on his behalf, with new team-mate and future centre partner Robbie Henshaw the latest to share his admiration for the 21-year-old.

“He’s a class player, and a really exciting talent as a young guy coming in,” says Henshaw.

I know the feeling with the pressure being put on you. He has delivered in the last two seasons and he has really made the transition up to professional rugby. He has made it with ease.

“It will definitely be exciting to link up with Garry in the future, and give him a little bit of experience trying to help him out, and I suppose just feeding off him and working with him.

“He’ll learn lots, and he has the skill and the talent to take things to the next level.”

Canterbury has revealed the new Leinster alternate jersey to be worn away from home throughout the 2016/17 season. The new Leinster alternate jersey is available to  pre-order from Canterbury.com, Life Style Sports and will be in store from August 26th.

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Murray Kinsella

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