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Ireland U20s prospect Turner looking to learn from Ringrose's example

The Trinity outside centre has impressed in the opening two rounds of the Six Nations.

AN OUTSTANDING YOUNG Irish player who came through Blackrock College and is most at home in the 13 shirt?

Sounds familiar.

Garry Ringrose followed in the footsteps of Brian O’Driscoll and now Leinster sub-academy midfielder Liam Turner is hoping to emulate Ringrose.

Liam Turner Turner was man of the match against Scotland U20s. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Surprisingly enough, O’Driscoll is the only one of this trio not to have started a Leinster Schools Senior Cup final victory for Blackrock in the 13 shirt - having been on the bench for the 1996 win over Newbridge. 

Turner captained the Dublin school to their 69th senior trophy last year, excelling as they beat Belvedere in the final, and very much looks up to Ringrose as a player.

“The biggest one would be Garry Ringrose, another Blackrock man,” says Turner when asked which players in the Leinster set-up he’s been learning most from.

“He was on the Senior Cup team that won the cup when I was in first year in 2013.

“Defence would be the biggest thing – he’s awesome the way he’s able to turn hunting into attack, he’s able to read the game really well and gives himself so much time to make those defensive reads.

“It’s something I really look to learn from.” 

19-year-old Turner is a highly-promising prospect. He was excellent in the Ireland U20s’ win over England two weekends ago and was then named man of the match in the victory against Scotland last Friday night

Liam Turner lifts the Leinster schools senior cup Turner led Blackrock to the LSSC last year. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

The 6ft centre has a low centre of gravity, sharp acceleration, good evasion skills, strong decision-making ability on both sides of the ball and, as important as anything, communicates accurately and consistently. 

Very much in the Ringrose mould. 

Turner was in demand as he looked towards club rugby upon graduation from school but he opted for Trinity College, having previously worked with director of rugby Tony Smeeth in his days as coach of the U13 team in the Willow Park First Year school.

“I have a great relationship with Tony and that was one of the reasons I chose to go to Trinity in the end,” says Turner. “We’re going really well, the lads are doing super in the AIL this year and it’s great working with Tony.”

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Turner cites his Blackrock coaches Hugh Maguire, Justin Vanstone, Steve Lambe and Peter Smyth as the other main influences on him so far and says he has relished returning to the school to help with the coaching of the Senior Cup team in the current campaign.

He has also enjoyed becoming part of Leinster’s sub-academy group, which trains at Donnybrook.

“I’ve been in since the start of July and I’m loving it there, making some really good friends and I’m in there pretty much every day of the week,” says Turner. “I’m looking to learn and I think it’s going well, I just want to keep going.”

Much of Turner’s focus this season is on the Ireland U20s. 

Liam Turner Turner plays his club rugby with Trinity. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

With scrum-half Craig Casey missing through injury in Scotland last weekend, Turner was brought into the leadership group and “stepped up with a performance befitting a leader, according to head coach Noel McNamara.

The U20s had a break post-Scotland but reconvene tomorrow and will train against Joe Schmidt’s senior Ireland squad at the Aviva Stadium on Friday as their preparation for a visit to Italy steps up.

Turner says Ireland are “ in a great position with two wins from two” in their Six Nations.

There is major ambition within the group and they’re hoping to build on a three-try victory in Scotland that featured some strong defensive passages.

“Conditions were tough, especially in the second half playing into the wind,” says Turner. “I’m very proud of the boys grinding out the win and sticking to our policy.

“We speak about the heart of our team, the root of our team, being those defensive sets. We were away from home so we try to build our own energy and those sets really give us that.”

Turner’s fine defensive reads, chat off the ball and dangerous running game give Ireland plenty of energy too and the U20s will hope for more of the same as they look to secure a championship success over the coming month.

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Murray Kinsella

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