Sunday 29 January 2023 Dublin: 5°C
# just outside the pride
Ringrose remaining calm after Gatland's latest reminder of how close he is to Lions squad
‘Six months ago I made my debut for Ireland, which I wouldn’t have dreamed of doing before then. I appreciate the opportunities.’

A SMILING GARRY Ringrose brushed aside Warren Gatland’s latest reminder that the Leinster centre was close to making the Lions squad.

The 22-year-old was name-checked by the tourists’ head coach the day he named his squad to take on New Zealand and he was brought up by Gatland again yesterday in an explanation about why he won’t be naming a list of  players on standby.

“The reason we won’t publish a list is because we may want to change our minds,” Gatland explained.

“We don’t want to back ourselves into a corner with a player who is right at the moment but maybe isn’t later on.

“The best example of a player who was unlucky not to be picked in the original squad is Garry Ringrose, but if in the last week the weather forecast says it will be pelting it down, it could be that someone else comes in instead of him.”

Leinster’s Garry Ringrose Inpho / Billy Stickland Whatever the weather: Ringrose was a driving force of Leinster's spirited fightback in torrid conditions in Montpellier this season. Inpho / Billy Stickland / Billy Stickland

It’s hard to avoid the touch of back-hand to the compliment given Ringrose’s increasingly steely displays in all weathers. The man himself though, swerved neatly to avoid both sides of Gatland’s sentiment and so was happy to acknowledge the mention and move on with focusing on this weekend’s Pro12 semi-final against Scarlets.

“I’m not entirely sure what was  said,” Ringrose said in Leinster’s UCD base today.

“From what I’m aware, it was around the standby squad. I think he’s right in saying he can’t name a squad outside of a squad with all the permutations that could happen. To start pre-calling that wouldn’t make sense.”

An injury to a Lions back over the course of this weekend’s Pro12 and Premiership semi-finals may well give Ringrose an early in to the squad which already features team-mates Sean O’Brien, Robbie Henshaw, Tadhg Furlong, Jonathan Sexton and Jack McGrath. But the Ireland international says he has not yet had any contact with Gatland.

Garry Ringrose Bryan Keane / INPHO Bryan Keane / INPHO / INPHO

“No, I was watching the selection with everyone else. It was exciting to watch as a squad, I’m delighted for the five guys that did get called out.

“‘Disappointed’ wouldn’t have been the right word to use, it’d suggest I’m putting a dampener on the opportunities I have been given. Six months ago I made my debut for Ireland, which I wouldn’t have dreamed of doing before then. I appreciate the opportunities.

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“Even the same week as the Lions squad announcement we had the (Champions Cup) semi-final, so no one really dwelled on it that much.”

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