Under 20 star Ringrose digs in to make sure feet don't leave the ground

The centre is adept at dodging the weighty comparison to Blackrock and Ireland’s most famous 13.

ORDINARILY, WE’RE QUITE happy to see Irish athletes step up, demand top billing and refuse to play down their own abilities.

In some cases, however, there are tags and praise that carry so much expectation that even the most thriving young talent can be suffocated under the weight.

With that in mind, it’s reassuring that Garry Ringrose makes as much effort to dodge the garlands and acclaim as he does to veer out of tackles and in to space.

On your way to playing senior rugby soon?

“I wouldn’t say that…”

What’s it like to be the star of the team?

“I certainly wouldn’t look at it that way…”

Garry Ringrose breaks free to score his side's fourth try Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Come on now, Garry. Haven’t you heard you’re The New Brian O’Driscoll?

“I don’t think there’ll be another Brian O’Driscoll at all, to be honest.”

Suitably grilled and embarrassed with praise, the centre can get on with the serious business of playing for Ireland’s Under 20s in their Junior World Championship campaign.

Ireland head to Italy next week to take their part in a pool containing Argentina, Scotland and New Zealand. Seeing a black jersey is daunting enough at the best of times, but Ireland go in to this tournament off the back of a Six Nations that deteriorated as the weeks went on. After starting off by putting 47 and 37 points on Italy and France, Ireland slipped to three defeats on the trot, including the final day loss to Scotland.

“It was a disappointing Six Nations,” admits Ringrose, “collectively we learned a lot of lessons. I learned a lot, there are one or two instances that are haunting me a bit. So hopefully I can right a few wrongs at this World Cup.”

Gary Ringrose Ringrose at the Aviva today before ireland head off to italy. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

For the most part, Nigel Carolan’s side are aiming to limit individual errors and the knock-on effect should see the group improve as a whole.

“It was really tight margins that let us down. Nothing really in particular, it was the odd individual thing – I let a try in by missing a tackle – the odd little things were letting us down.

“What Nigel tells us is do the simple things brilliantly. That’s what our focus is. If we do the simple things well, the rest will fall in to place and maybe the fine margins will fall on the right side during the World Cup.”

One margin that may well fall in Ireland’s favour is the experience of the squad. Carolan was able to finalise the group at the weekend with no injuries and no changes from the squad he called up last month. That means Ireland have just one uncapped player for the tournament – an extremely low number for this level – and bring along six players who were in the matchday squad for last summer’s JWC semi-final loss to England. Ringrose is one of that half dozen.

‘Off the pitch’

“I’m hoping it will help that I was involved last year, even just knowing the setup and knowing the drill on a daily and weekly basis. There’s only a four-day turnaround between games – the quick turnaround means you have to really focus on whatever you do off the pitch as well.

“It will just be about recovering and doing a lot of video analysis, because you’ll put the hours in there as opposed to out on the pitch because you’re trying to preserve yourself for the match.

“There’s a few boys that it’s new to and hopefully I’ll let them in on a few tips on how to get through it.”

As for how he manages to keep those feet on the ground with such pressure and praise being thrust upon him, well, Ringrose is already acting like a model pro.

Garry Ringrose makes a break Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“I’m just trying to keep it simple in my head, to focus on the task at hand. Whether it’s just an academy training session or a senior training session, [I'm] just trying to be better at the end of the session than I was at the start.

“I wouldn’t look long term, just try to focus on the important things and keep the head down.”

He added:  ”There’s so much competition I certainly won’t get comfortable. I know there’s a lot of things I can improve on personally as well as maintain a few positives.

“That would be my focus, just trying to work on the weaknesses in my game and hopefully be a better player at the end of the World Cup.”

About the author:

Sean Farrell

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