Monday 25 March 2019

Ringrose switches focus to Red Army and PRO14 title

Garry Ringrose. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Garry Ringrose. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

The laurels are not feeling the love around Leinster, there is no time for resting. Already the talk is of Munster and a European/PRO14 double-tilt.

The Red Army are ready to crash their old foes' Champions Cup home-coming at the RDS on Saturday, but if Garry Ringrose is anything to go by there will be no complacency in the blue corner.

The 23-year-old centre presents for his media duty like an accountant on time for an audit.

Forty-eight hours after a first European success in blue, he is already "turning the page" and focusing in on the Guinness PRO14 semi-final.

He is consistent in his reluctance to dwell on past success. In the days after he scored a try in Ireland's Grand Slam securing win in Twickenham he was honing in on Saracens.

This is a young man for whom the next job is always more important than the shiny new medal in his back pocket.

And while most Leinster fans are still basking in the glory of Bilbao, he is already moving on to the next job.

"It's a bit surreal," he replies when asked about Saturday's win over Racing 92.

"You kind of don't really sit back and fully reflect on it.

"You enjoy the moment out there as we did on Saturday but similarly with the Grand Slam, we had Saracens in the quarter-final so you had to turn the page pretty quickly and it's a similar challenge now with Munster on Saturday."

Still, he allowed some room for celebration before moving on.

"It's nice to spend time with family and friends.

"I certainly know that my family feel the pressure as well so they are pretty relieved. It was nice on Saturday, we came back and went to the Intercontinental (hotel) that night and it was nice to spend a bit of time and catch up with family and friends after a pretty tense build-up in the week.

"I certainly enjoyed that but personally you look forward to turning the page as quickly as possible."

Perhaps it is just as well that Ringrose is so focused.

A less mentally strong young player would be burdened by the jersey he wears. On the front are the three stars to represent Leinster's European history and on the back is the number of the man who perhaps contributed most to securing those titles.

"It wouldn't have been a burden," he says of that pressure.

"You spend your whole time dreaming of getting an opportunity like that and then it comes so quickly and it's finished so quickly like that (clicks fingers) so it's hard to put into words what it would means for myself, my family and friends and similarly tricky to put into words what it means for all the guys in here.

"You kind of don't reflect on it too much once it's happened because it changed for Saracens and now for Munster. You enjoy the 24 hours after the game but now it's straight back down to business."

As a youngster, he watched Leinster win those trophies and admits that there was a deep desire to join the older players in the pantheon.

"It was tough," he says.

"I would say added pressure, but it almost seemed a bit surreal I found during the week that I was actually getting an opportunity to put another star on the jersey.

"It was similar to the Grand Slam where you try not get too distracted by what's at stake and more about sticking to what works and bringing the best version of yourself on the weekend.

"That's what helps you win ultimately rather than getting too distracted by what's at stake. But afterwards, it's still a bit surreal that we've managed to add to that legacy of what I would have been used to growing up. It's a pretty special feeling even to be part of it."

Although they celebrated late into the night upon returning from Bilbao and the party continued with their homecoming on Sunday, Leinster are fully aware of what's coming their way at the RDS on Saturday afternoon.

They have won both fixtures between the teams so far this season but are set to be without a couple of key names as they look to get their performance levels right on the back of a career-high win for many of their players.


"The games are as close to international Test matches as they come," Ringrose explains of the rivalry.

"Growing up I would have had an appreciation of when it probably wasn't going as well for Leinster and Munster were having great success.

"Luckily enough I've been involved in a couple of wins, but the past doesn't count for too much unfortunately.

"It's good to come back in this week and turn the page pretty quickly. It is a standard that means you can't just turn up on Saturday and expect to be there.

"With Munster being as good as they are and having the players they do, they will punish us if they do. We're well aware of that.

"So, we need to hit the ground running and not get distracted by (last) Saturday."

That's the message and Ringrose is firmly on it.

Irish Independent

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