Thursday 23 February 2017

Ireland expect Ringrose to thrive as Dillane targets place in history

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ultan Dillane pictured at Ireland’s base in Chicago yesterday. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Ultan Dillane pictured at Ireland’s base in Chicago yesterday. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Garry Ringrose is ready for international rugby, according to Ireland assistant coach Andy Farrell.

The 21-year-old centre is in line to have some involvement against the All Blacks at Soldier Field after being stood down from provincial action last weekend and could start his first Test against in Chicago.

Certainly, the former England defence coach has few doubts about pitching the youngster in against the world's best team given his excellent form for Leinster so far this season.

Ringrose has been starring alongside Robbie Henshaw and Johnny Sexton in recent weeks and is likely to link up with them at international level this week.

"His form is great and it's not as though we've got a talent there that isn't playing to form. He's on form so therefore he's confident," Farrell said.

"Again, you can only watch them at the weekend and judge them how you see them day to day in training.

Leinster's Garry Ringrose. Photo: Brendan Moran / Sportsfile
Leinster's Garry Ringrose. Photo: Brendan Moran / Sportsfile

"We all know that international rugby training is a lot more intense because of the quality of player.

"They've all come together and he's thriving in the environment. You notice him every session; that means he's comfortable and that means he's wanted to push on forward for a place."

Farrell confirmed that there are no injury worries in Ireland's 27-man squad, but New Zealand have real issues in the second-row after Luke Romano returned home due to a family bereavement.

The world champions are already without first-choice partners Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick and are down to the bare bones. Uncapped pair Scott Barrett and Vaea Fifita are in line for a debut on Saturday with 10-cap Patrick Tuipulotu the most experienced lock available.

"They've come in and done what we need them to do," assistant head coach Ian Foster said.

"They've got some good teachers around them and the boys have come on tour. Scott and Vaea have worked really hard to get up to speed and they're doing a good job at it."

Aaron Smith could feature after his absence from the squad after his involvement in a sex scandal.

Although the bookies are calling this as a 22-point game in New Zealand's favour, Ireland's Ultan Dillane spoke of a confidence in the ranks of the squad as they step up their preparations for Saturday's game.

"They have 18 wins in a row and clearly they have been hyped up as favourites and all that. But there is a lot of pressure on them to maintain that streak," he said.

"Us going in as underdogs, we see that as an opportunity to upset them. We hope to create a bit of history.

"Any time we have got together, it has been real intense and sharp and geared towards this game at the weekend. There has been a lot of talk about it but we are physically and mentally in a good place."

"The belief has been there for quite a while. I don't want to dwell on previous games but three years ago, we almost upset them at home.

"That is only a taste of what is to come. We don't think about the games from long ago. We think about how the team is at the moment, not how things panned out in games from years ago.

"We don't think they are invincible. They do have weaknesses. We will try and exploit those.

"The excitement has been building. Everyone is buzzing for it."

Irish Independent

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