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'I think Garry is going to be a great player' - Ringrose shows rich promise

The Leinster centre was superb in Thomond Park yesterday.

YESTERDAY, WE WITNESSED a special moment from a player who looks like he is going to be spectacularly good. It was a genuine thrill to watch.

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

There’s one obvious comparison to make here, but Garry Ringrose himself won’t be getting carried away as the superlatives are thrown in his direction. Brian O’Driscoll himself is backing the 20-year-old to start for Ireland in the 2016 Six Nations.

Ringrose, an alumnus of Blackrock College like O’Driscoll, has had to be patient in recent weeks as big Ben Te’o has been retained in the 13 shirt for Leinster’s European games, while others have been selected on the wings.

What’s very clear now is that Ringrose’s time kicking his heels in the stands or slotting in on the wing is at an end. This young man has the potential to be a brilliant outside centre for Leinster and Ireland.

He’s already making a major impact. When Sean O’Brien hit him with a short pass on the counter-attack during yesterday’s win away to Munster, Ringrose pounced on the opportunity clinically.

He burst from his own 10-metre line, darting past the stranded Dave Foley, then bringing the ball back into two hands to make life extremely difficult for Jack O’Donoghue.

Dummy sold, the ball went back into Ringrose’s left hand as he looked to beat last defender Andrew Conway. With the Munster fullback getting into a solid tackling position, the ball was back in two hands and Ringrose calmly fed the assisting pass to Isa Nacewa.

“I think Garry did a lot of really good things,” said Leinster’s head coach Leo Cullen afterwards. “It’s trying to keep giving him those positive experiences and I think Garry is going to be a great player. We hope he’s going to be a great player.”

Ringrose clearly has a level of pace and evasion skills that so few of his teammates and opponents do, but Cullen has been most impressed by the 20-year-old’s work ethic.


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“He’s someone who works incredibly hard, and that’s the most important part, that he has that gradual improvement all the time,” said Cullen.

Garry Ringrose on the attack Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“He puts in the work every day and you see out there that he gets the rewards. It’s really pleasing and I think that’s a really important lesson for anyone playing the game: it comes down to the preparation you put in day after day. He’s someone who really epitomises that.”

The sense is that Leinster and Cullen are doing their best to ease Ringrose into the limelight, rather than outright declaring him their first-choice outside centre right now.

Te’o is departing for Worcester Warriors next season, meaning the pressure to invest in Ringrose as a starter will only grow on Cullen.

“They’re slightly different physical specimens,” said Cullen. We’re making assessments all of the time. We wish Ben well. We’ll make assessments to see how guys pull through this week.

I think he is a very good outside centre. We’re trying to just bring Garry through slowly this season. He’s working away really, really well all of the time. It’s a really competitive area for us. We’ve got lots of options there, which is pleasing.”

Why the need to be guarded with Ringrose? Why not just put him into the starting XV for all the biggest games, when he’s so clearly ready for it?

“We want our young players to be able to play for Leinster for 12 to 15 years, so that’s an important part of it,” said Cullen. “There’s lot of games this season and we want to make sure that guys come through in the right manner.”

As for the likelihood that hype will build around Ringrose, particularly after O’Driscoll’s assertion, Cullen said he won’t be deciding who plays at 13 for Ireland.

“I have no influence over who starts for Ireland in the Six Nations, so maybe the Irish coaches may have an issue with Brian rather than me.”

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Murray Kinsella

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