Ireland centre Garry Ringrose. Dan Sheridan/INPHO

After stellar job on the wing, Ringrose ready to rock at 13 against All Blacks

The 28-year-old will be a key man in Paris tomorrow night.

THE OLD FOOTBALL skills came in handy for Garry Ringrose last weekend in Paris when he showed classy control to take the sting out of a Finn Russell kick.

It was a memorable touch from a man who used to play football with St James’s Athletic and then Granada FC in Dublin when he was younger.

“I used to play rugby on a Saturday for the school and then I didn’t tell the coaches but I played soccer on Sunday,” says Ireland centre Ringrose.

“It was nothing serious, just a couple of mates, and a few of the dads were coaches.”

He was already on the way to becoming a brilliant rugby player at that stage but his rounded skills and adaptability were certainly helped by being involved in other sports during his youth. 

While Ringrose is one of the best outside centres in the game, he showed his flexibility by playing most of last weekend’s big World Cup win over Scotland on the wing.

Initially, it was just to cover for Mack Hansen as he went for a Head Injury Assessment but Ringrose was almost immediately back on the wing when Hansen injured his calf after returning.

“It certainly wasn’t easy, there was once or twice when I was roaring to Mack on the sideline because I had forgotten one of the roles that the winger had to do,” says Ringrose.

“We are challenged as backs to be across everything detail-wise, so whether you have Stu [McCloskey] stepping in, myself going to the wing, Jamison [Gibson-Park] going to the wing, it’s part of the challenge.”

garry-ringrose-scores-a-try-despite-george-horne Ringrose scores against Scotland. Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Ireland aren’t this comfortable in chaos by accident. Head coach Andy Farrell and attack coach Mike Catt are big on being adaptable.

“I suppose frequently enough in training,” says Ringrose when asked about players training out of position.

“Very often some guys might be managing load-wise so we’d be encouraged to test out different positions and be across it.

“I suppose even Catty and Faz, in some of the attacking detail, to fully understand how something works you’ve got to be aware of what other people are doing around you, as well as your own role which then kind of adds and helps, even if you haven’t gotten reps in a certain position during the week, because of the general understanding, the expectation of understanding that we have of each other helps too.”

Ringrose hopes to have a full game in his best position, outside centre, tomorrow in the World Cup quarter-final against New Zealand.

The Kiwis have major attacking threats across their backline and Ringrose knows he will have his hands full.

“I guess some of the specifics would be Rieko [Ioane], his ability, his footwork on the line, his speed, his skills in contact, being able to keep the ball alive,” says Ringrose.

“They’d be some to start in terms of his quality. Then you’ve the Barretts as well, who are exceptional readers of the game. They’ve all played multiple positions across the backline which is a testament to them, to their ability, and I haven’t even started talking about the wingers and the danger they have out there.

“So it’s really being alert for everything, or trying to be at least. It’s almost a mental fitness as opposed to a physical fitness.

“There’s no moment to switch off. You’ve just got to expect the unexpected and be ready and if they do catch you, react as best we can, and scramble as best we can to deal with the threats.”

andy-farrell-and-garry-ringrose-celebrate-after-the-game Andy Farrell with Ringrose. Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Ringrose has done his homework and you can just sense the excitement from him about finally getting into knock-out rugby tomorrow night at Stade de France.

The chance to make history is a big motivation.

“I guess how we’d be looking at it is that it’s an opportunity to do something that no other Irish team has done,” he says.

“Having said that, we can’t control the result or the outcome, but what we can control is how well we prepare. Off the back of the win last week, when we knew who we were facing, it was pretty much from Sunday, all hands on deck preparing as best we can because [we're up] against a side of New Zealand’s quality.

‘That is certainly what is motivating us; it’s an opportunity.”

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