Ringrose relishing derby opportunity to play at the Aviva
Published 01/04/2016 | 02:30
Nothing like a bit of perspective to put the relative youth of a player into context and Garry Ringrose's admission that his earliest memory of a Leinster versus Munster inter-pro derby is of the Blues' famous win in Croke Park did just that.
For many, that game will seem like only yesterday but for Ringrose who watched the game as a 14-year-old in 2009, it was his first real taste of a rivalry that for years has lit up Irish rugby.
Ringrose was the star of the show when the two sides met earlier this season as it was his searing break that created Isa Nacewa's try.
It was the kind of moment that for anyone who has tracked Ringrose's fledging career from schools rugby with Blackrock to the Ireland U-20s won't have been all that surprised by as that is why the 21-year-old is such an exciting prospect.
Tomorrow evening at the Aviva Stadium will represent the latest considerable step in Ringrose's career as he gets set to line out at the national stadium for the first time but, predictably, it's not something that he will be daunted by.
"It was probably the biggest crowd I'd played in front of and there was that moment when Munster ran out and the whole place shook. That was an amazing experience," he recalls of his experience in Thomond Park last December.
"It's always nice to get an early touch of the ball to settle into the game so hopefully, if I was involved now this weekend, something similar would happen.
"It's a little bit surreal but I'm definitely excited. It's these kind of games that I would have watched when I was younger and gone to and to be part of it is pretty cool and a dream come true which would be the only way to describe it.
"I try not to get too nervous, which is never easy waking up with butterflies the morning of the game but I suppose just be grateful of the opportunity if I get it.
"I think the fact that it's the end of the Pro12 and every point matters so no matter who we're playing we need to get as many points as possible and the fact that it is the derby and the history behind it adds that extra weight - and on top of that being in the Aviva being in front of 40-odd thousand people. There's several reasons why it's a big game.
"It will certainly be the biggest crowd I've played in front of and the first time in the Aviva, if I was playing, so I think it will be as tough a challenge as every other game I've played in in the Pro12 so far but would be a pretty cool one to be involved in."
Ringrose has seen the balance of power switch hands as he grew up but now that he is on the inside, he perhaps knows more than ever how much these derbies mean to both the players and the supporters.
"As you grew up Munster were in the ascendancy, that changed to Leinster, now, do you sense a rebirth at Leinster," he says.
"There's transition with a lot of senior players in Leinster, Ireland and Munster going and there's opportunities for younger guys.
"Definitely. It's exciting. Unfortunately with both teams out of Europe it puts that bit more pressure on the Pro12 and on the derby itself.
"That adds to it."