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No dining out on Grand Slam glory for driven Ringrose

Centre won't be dwelling on Ireland's triumph

Garry Ringrose is determined to add a Champions Cup winner’s medal to Grand Slam glory. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Garry Ringrose is determined to add a Champions Cup winner’s medal to Grand Slam glory. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Perhaps it was only when he turned his phone on in the Twickenham dressing-room that Garry Ringrose appreciated what he and his team-mates achieved last month.

That the tsunami of goodwill came as a surprise to the 23-year-old is a measure of his impenetrable focus. Even when he scored Ireland's first try against England, he marched back to the halfway line as all hell broke loose in the stands around him and in front of televisions back home. Just doing his job.

Make no mistake, Ringrose loves his job, but it appears that he draws as much enjoyment from the day-to-day discipline of training as he does from the rich rewards that results bring.

The way he tells it, within hours of the full-time whistle in London he was already switching his focus towards the next session, the next game and Leinster's European run.

Perhaps it is that focus that allowed him to come in from the cold and add so much to the Six Nations campaign, replacing Chris Farrell in the Ireland No 13 shirt to star in the win over Scotland and contribute a try and a strong all-round performance in the high-pressure environment of the grand finale.

His place in history is secured, but this is not a young man destined to dine out on the Slam forever more. Already it is marked down in his memory banks as a day to look back on fondly, while focusing fully on the big games to come.

Special

"It was a special game," he says. "Seeing my parents and girlfriend there afterwards ... then when I went back to the hotel there were about eight close friends who had flown over and surprised me in the hotel, moments like that I'll remember.

"What I've found is when you're in the bubble in the build-up to the game you're focused on your role and that's all you think of - bringing your best self on the day of the game.

"Then after that, I was taken a bit by surprise, a bit of shock, by the texts I was getting - the congratulations and stuff. It was pretty cool for that day or two, but then we were back in Leinster and we had to turn the page pretty quickly.

"The senior guys stood up and made us aware of the challenge we faced and what we had to do to follow their example. That's what we did."

Few youngsters who watched the win over England and the celebrations in the snow afterwards were dreaming about the daily grind of professionalism, but for Ringrose the work is at least as enjoyable as the reward.

Indeed, he says the emotion that greeted the final whistle was as much relief as anything else.

"I don't know, it's probably a combination of both. Like, I do enjoy training and working hard, certainly with Ireland and Leinster it's incredibly competitive so it's not as if we're kicking back and enjoying ourselves, everyone has to work for their spot," he explains. "But obviously there is an enjoyment in that.

"Then, obviously, the games, once you win there is an element of relief considering, well for me anyway, with the big games that I was lucky enough to be involved in as well as enjoying the hour or two after the game in the changing room when everyone is half knackered and your job is done.

"But then Monday rolls around and you have to go again pretty quickly."

Where, one wonders, does that pressure come from - within or without?

"It's probably more so internal because you want to put the best version of yourself (forward) and obviously it's never going to be perfect," the 23-year-old says.

"I certainly haven't, I don't think anyone has played a perfect game, there's always things you can improve on.

"But, at the end of the day, it's kind of winning at all costs and that's the attitude at Leinster. It doesn't matter how bad you played if you won, you've contributed in some shape or form so that's kind of the attitude that we have here."

Perhaps that attitude is necessary for a young man burdened with the comparison to Brian O'Driscoll from a young age.

School

Coming from the same school, playing for the same club and scoring outrageous tries hasn't helped his chances of avoiding those, but he is very much his own man and has been looking to another who was spoken of in similar terms as a youngster for guidance.

Like many of the youngsters in the Irish set-up, the example of Keith Earls is the one they all follow.

"He is certainly someone I would look up to," Ringrose says.

"He's played No 13 and wing, he's not too dissimilar to myself. What he's managed to achieve with Munster and Ireland, the performances he has and the amount of caps he has, his attitude on and off the pitch, he is someone in the Irish set-up I would look up to."

Although he was given last weekend off after another try in the impressive win over Saracens, the semi-final against Scarlets is already on his mind.

"We're under no illusion of the challenge that we face," he says.

"It would have been disappointing if we didn't (beat Saracens) considering how last year finished. There was that motivation. It was in the back of everybody's minds.

"That fact that it was Saracens, the past two-time winners, made a difference. It was a performance that we felt was representative of the whole group as opposed to the 23 there."

The next job is a big one but Ringrose is the man for it.

Irish Independent

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