Sunday 17 December 2017

Garry Ringrose focusing on Ireland's summer tour rather than possible Lions call

Ireland's Garry Ringrose is out injured
Ireland's Garry Ringrose is out injured

Garry Ringrose is refusing to get distracted by a possible British and Irish Lions call-up as he concentrates on delivering for Ireland during their summer tour of the United States and Japan.

The 22-year-old centre was unlucky to miss the cut for Warren Gatland's 41-man Lions squad and responded to his omission with a stunning display in Leinster's 27-22 defeat by Clermont in the Champions Cup semi-final.

Ringrose scored a sublime solo try that day which was reminiscent of Brian O'Driscoll's unforgettable effort for the Lions against Australia in Brisbane back in 2001.

Gatland has name-checked Ringrose several times when asked about potential players on standby, should injury claim one of his front-line midfielders on the gruelling 10-game trip to New Zealand, but Ringrose is focused on doing a job for Ireland.

"That's the least of my worries," he said of the Lions talk.

"I feel so lucky to go and represent Ireland for the next three weeks against USA and Japan. This time last year I missed out on a summer tour (in South Africa).

"I appreciate the fact that I am pretty lucky, from where I have come from last year, to come and play on the summer tour. It wouldn't be too much of a concern. Hopefully we get the matches (in New Zealand) up on the projector and support the lads that are there."

Ringrose has enjoyed a breakout season in the green jersey. An unused substitute during Ireland's brilliant victory over the All Blacks in Chicago on November 5, he won his first cap against Canada the following week.

He featured in the unfamiliar position of inside centre in the rematch with New Zealand for 70 minutes at the Aviva Stadium after Robbie Henshaw was forced off with concussion, before playing a starring role at number 12 in Ireland's 27-24 win over Australia.

The former Blackrock College star was ever-present during Ireland's RBS 6 Nations campaign and is set to play a pivotal role for his country over the coming weeks.

"It is a bit of a roller-coaster," Ringrose said.

"I was involved in all of the Six Nations games, which was a big learning experience for me. And then getting a bit of disappointment with Leinster with the way we finished the year. A lot of rugby has been played since November."

After a long season Ringrose insists there will be no hint of complacency from Joe Schmidt's youthful squad as they look to seal victory over the United States in New Jersey this weekend before a two-Test series against Japan in Shizuoka and Tokyo.

"It is a win at all costs," he said. "It's always the case when you put on the green jersey - you always want to put on the best performance possible, individually and collectively, put the best performance forward and hopefully win.

"That will be our primary focus and we will do everything we can preparation-wise to ensure that."

Former Munster and Ireland fly-half Ronan O'Gara, who is now part of the coaching set-up at Racing 92 in the French Top 14, has been working with Schmidt's squad this week.

Munster assistant coach Felix Jones and Leinster backs coach Girvan Dempsey will also work with the squad during the two-week tour of Japan as Schmidt looks give some promising young coaches a taste of top-level Test experience.

"There are fresh faces in and around camp and they can offer a different perspective about things," Ringrose added.

"The likes of Girvan Dempsey and Ronan O'Gara, who have been on countless tours like this... Anything they can see, or improvements they can give advice on, it's really beneficial no matter what position or number you are."

Meanwhile, Ulster number 10 Paddy Jackson has remained in Ireland for personal reasons rather than travel to the US. In Jackson's absence, Leinster youngster Joey Carbery is set to start at fly-half against the Eagles on Saturday.

Munster centre Rory Scannell - one of eight uncapped players in Schmidt's squad - is set to provide cover at fly-half, with Jackson set to link up with the squad in Tokyo next week.

Press Association

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