'Sponges' Ringrose and Van der Flier will only get better from Ireland exposure -- Dempsey

The pair have worked hard to get in this position.

Image: James Crombie/INPHO

LEINSTER BACKS COACH Girvan Dempsey knows better than most, the quality of newcomers in Joe Schmidt’s 24-hour Six Nations preparation camp today.

The former fullback worked closely with both Garry Ringrose and Josh van der Flier through his role as academy director at Leinster in recent seasons when he also coached the duo for Leinster A.

This season that relationship has paid dividends with both flanker and centre excelling in a senior side struggling under the weight of its returning internationals. The form of Ringrose (20) and Van der Flier (22) has earned deserved recognition from more than just Joe Schmidt too, with Brian O’Driscoll joining the chorus putting Ringrose’s name forward for a starting berth in the Six Nations.

Dempsey however, is making sure not to rush the pair to Test level. However he is confident that both men won’t find themselves out of their depth in Carton House.

“It would be very quick,” says Dempsey of the suggested new caps.

“They’re still learning and still quite young, but that would be up to Joe when he gets them in to the international setup and training camps and see how they react to that.

“Both of them would be very capable and would do their utmost to make sure they’d be prepared for it. Obviously it’s a big step up from Pr012 to Europe and Europe to international, but we’ll just have to see how they go before the Six Nations.”

“It’s great for both of them to be training with the Ireland squad, to get that experience. It’s a big challenge for them, but both of them would love the opportunity to do it.”

It’s an opportunity that has not come by accident for either man. While Ringrose has long been touted as a star in the making, he has been conditioned to build on that natural talent:

“He’s shown it through from when he was in our sub-academy in Donnybrook through to the academy. He’s like a sponge, he’s just eager to learn and take on information. Like Josh, and all the guys, they really understand the game and what you’re trying to do is hone their abilities so that when they do take the field and they’re ready for it.”

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Josh Van Der Flier Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Van der Flier’s rise has been a little further under the radar.Yet the flanker carries an attitude with him that drives him to improve with every week he is fit to train.

After facing Toulon, he lamented the fact that Steffon Armitage – arguably Europe’s leading ruck technician at the minute – got the better of him at the breakdown. So Van der Flier won’t walk around Carton House with a happy-to-be-here grin today, he’ll be intent on soaking up as much information as possible to continue his impressive rise.

“I sit down with Josh on a weekly basis and he goes through his game,” says Dempsey.
He makes sure he’s comfortable that when he goes on the field he knows exactly what he has to do, there’s no doubting himself and he’s 100% confidence in his ability.

“Likewise with Gary, they’ve had really good experiences to date and that’s what the coaches are trying to get them, really good experiences so that they can continue to grow and learn from them.

“They’re two really good guys and they’re naturally grounded themselves. They worked hard. And the plaudits they’re getting is down to the hard work they’ve put in. They’re very mature kids for their age and they’ve gone about their business very professionally – how they put the work in off the field and behind the scenes is a testament to them.”

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Sean Farrell

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