Ringrose still 'pinching himself' as Montpellier loom
Garry Ringrose still pinches himself every time he pulls on a Leinster or Ireland jersey, but you wouldn't know it judging by his performances in the last 12 months.
Not much has changed from the kid who tore other schools players to shreds, and although he remains modest in the extreme, deep down Ringrose knows he belongs at the very top level.
After all, it was this time last year that he made his Champions Cup debut and since then he has been capped three times by Ireland and has made the No.13 jersey his own at Leinster.
Ringrose isn't fazed by anything that is being asked of him, and why should he be? He has passed every test with flying colours, but yet his feet remain firmly on the ground.
"I don't think too much has changed," he maintains.
"I still feel lucky, and it's still a kinda pinch yourself moment getting the chance to represent Leinster, especially here in the RDS with my friends and family in the crowd.
"How special that feels certainly hasn't dwindled in any way, so not too much has changed.
"I was over the moon to get the opportunity I did (with Ireland) during the autumn. I wouldn't have expected or envisaged getting the opportunities I did.
"I was trying, as much as possible, to take learnings from that for experience and bring it into my game. That's the challenge I have now, to take that experience and turn it into something beneficial for Leinster."
Leo Cullen won't have learned too much from his side's facile 70-6 win over Zebre on Friday night, but the fact that Ringrose and 23-year-old Robbie Henshaw got another 67 minutes together will certainly have benefited Leinster as they prepare to welcome a bruising Montpellier side to the RDS.
"I certainly feel lucky to play outside him (Henshaw)," 21-year old Ringrose said.
"You forget how young he is because of the experience he has. He certainly saved my ass a couple of times out there! It is just a pleasure to play with him and I am constantly learning off him.
"It is a great opportunity for me, personally, to get a chance to play alongside him. Hopefully I can improve as much as possible."
Ringrose may not be the biggest centre, and hopefully he remains that way, but what he lacks in size, he makes up for in the way that he reads the game better than most.
Montpellier will pose a huge physical threat and although he knows that he will have plenty of big runners down his channel, Ringrose isn't intimidated by the prospect.
"After coming up against (Tevita) Kuridrani in that Australian game, I learned how to deal with physicality like that.
"Montpellier aren't short of size in their team. I will try and take learnings from the autumn and use it in this game for someone like (Nemani) Nadolo.
"He is a huge threat and scored two tries against us, I think, the last time. It will certainly be in the forefront of my mind and everyone else as well to try and minimise that threat."
A win on Friday night would put Leinster within touching distance of sealing a home quarter-final. Last season's failure, however, remains in the back of the players' minds, particularly for the young ones, as Ringrose admits.
"It was certainly tough having seen Leinster do so well in Europe, and then being involved with them and not going so great," he said.
"But it's arguably brought the best out of us and narrowed our focus this year to take each game at a time, and that's what we'll do with Montpellier.
"It really would be special for the club if we could get back into the quarter-final."