Thursday 29 September 2016

Brian O'Driscoll urges Ireland to pick Ringrose for Six Nations opener

Published 28/12/2015 | 02:30

15 November 2015; BT Sport's Brian O'Driscoll. European Rugby Champions Cup, Pool 5, Round 1, Leinster v Wasps. RDS, Ballsbridge, Dublin. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
15 November 2015; BT Sport's Brian O'Driscoll. European Rugby Champions Cup, Pool 5, Round 1, Leinster v Wasps. RDS, Ballsbridge, Dublin. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

Leo Cullen tried to temper expectations surrounding Garry Ringrose after Brian O'Driscoll called for the young centre to be thrown into the Ireland side for the Six Nations opener following yesterday's eye-catching display at Thomond Park.

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On an evening when it was Leinster's defensive display that was most impressive, it was Ringrose who stole the show with his brilliant break in the lead-up to Isa Nacewa's early try.

Ireland legend O'Driscoll urged Joe Schmidt to start the youngster against Wales on February 7, tweeting: "@IrishRugby could do a whole lot worse than going with Garry Ringrose against Wales on Feb 7th."

Leinster coach Cullen, though, did his best to keep a lid on the hype.

"I think he is a very good outside-centre," Cullen enthused. "We try to just bring Garry through slowly this season. He's working away really, really well all of the time.

"It's a really competitive area for us. We've got lots of options there, which is pleasing.

"I have no influence over who starts for Ireland in the Six Nations so maybe the Irish coaches may have an issue with Brian rather than me.

"We want our young players to be able to play for Leinster for 12 to 15 years so that's an important part of it. There's a lot of games this season and we want to make sure that guys come through in the right manner.

"How big is big for international rugby? Shane Williams played a lot of international games and he is not bigger than Garry Ringrose.

"That's for someone else to decide. Garry will more than likely get more games for Leinster between now and then so we'll see."

On the injury front, Cian Healy will be assessed having come off with a problem with his knee but it was Munster who were left to count the cost.

Conor Murray failed a late fitness test with a hip problem and although Anthony Foley was coy on the details, there is a feeling that he could be facing up to five weeks on the sidelines.

Keith Earls was rushed to hospital but was given the all-clear and released soon after, while James Cronin left the stadium on crutches.

"I just spoke to Keith inside there. He's back from the hospital so that's good and he's walking around," Foley said.

"After he offloaded the ball, he fell and connected, I think, with a leg and had a bit of a shock through the body. That was looked after.

"When he fell to the ground and his head hit the back of somebody's ankle, he felt a pain in his chest and in his back. He was taken to hospital, he's been released from hospital with no concerns."

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