Saturday 20 January 2018

Garry Ringrose backed to be "awesome" against Australia despite inexperience

Garry Ringrose will start for Ireland against Australia
Garry Ringrose will start for Ireland against Australia

Garry Ringrose has been tipped to belie his inexperience and solve Ireland's midfield conundrum against Australia on Saturday.

Ringrose will make his first senior start at number 12 when Ireland host the Wallabies at the Aviva Stadium, amid robust backing from head coach Joe Schmidt.

Centre partner Jared Payne also hailed Ringrose's rapid progress, and insisted the 21-year-old's lack of experience in his new role will not dent his performance in Dublin.

Ringrose was pressed into service at inside centre off the bench in last week's 21-9 New Zealand defeat - but head coach Schmidt has handed him the 12 shirt on merit amid a clutch of midfield injuries.

"In terms of experience Garry Ringrose doesn't need any of that," said Payne.

"You just tell him to do his thing and back himself, and he's a smart enough and good enough player to do that.

"I think there's always all this chat about experience but it's all a bit of a show.

"It all comes down to the individual: if they're confident enough to show their wares and play rugby, then you don't need experience.

"There's nothing that I really have to adapt to play alongside him: I just tell Garry to back himself and do his thing, and if he does that then I'm sure you're going to see a pretty awesome performance again."

Ireland lost Robbie Henshaw to concussion and Johnny Sexton to a hamstring problem all in the first quarter of last weekend's Dublin defeat to the All Blacks.

Ringrose deputised manfully at 12 against New Zealand, but Ireland certainly lost the bite in their attacking shape.

Schmidt has since, however, rejected the option to promote either natural inside centre Luke Marshall or Stuart Olding into the side to face Australia.

Ringrose has not started a game at 12 since featuring for Leinster Under-20s last term, and will now win his third Test cap in the role against Michael Cheika's experienced Wallabies.

Schmidt insisted Ringrose has played his way into position to replace regular inside centre Henshaw, for Ireland's final autumn Test.

"Really it's a reflection of his performance last week to be honest," said Schmidt of Ringrose's selection at inside centre.

"I thought Garry stepped in and did incredibly well against New Zealand.

"He slipped a couple of tackles, got one line break and almost got another couple, and he was among our top tacklers.

"So it's another opportunity to invest in Garry.

"He's been in camp with us for a year and a half at different times, and he's been a bit of a long-term investment, that we want to take this opportunity to develop a bit further."

Full-back Rob Kearney and flanker CJ Stander have beaten concussion problems to start against Australia, with Keith Earls promoted to the XV on the wing and Simon Zebo dropping to the bench.

Schmidt admitted Ireland's reshaped midfield of Paddy Jackson, Ringrose and Payne wasted a number of fine platforms against the All Blacks - but has tipped that trio to sharpen up this weekend.

"We lost our shape at points last week, it was quite difficult with those changes," said Schmidt.

"Sometimes you create chances but if you don't have leadership then you don't tend to have cohesion.

"Robbie Henshaw was an absolutely stand-out player for us in Chicago.

"And not having him for the majority of Saturday's match probably didn't allow us quite so much robustness through the midfield.

"And not having Johnny (Sexton) didn't quite give us the same kind of organisation.

"So what we're hoping is that they've had a bit of game time together last week, and we've had training since, and hopefully those guys can get a bit of confidence from that."

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