Ringrose: Younger players are well able for Six Nations
It's not that long ago that Garry Ringrose was the new kid on the block, but as the wheel keeps turning, and the provinces continue to churn out exciting young talents, the next star in the making is never too far away.
Before Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw was the name on everyone's lips. It's often difficult to believe that he is still only 24, while his centre partner turned 23 last week.
There is, however, a new crop of youngsters strutting around the corridors of Carton House these days, which leaves Ringrose and Henshaw almost like elder statesmen.
Ringrose is "optimistic" that he can rejoin the squad before the end of the Six Nations following an ankle injury, but he has seen plenty of the younger brigade up close at Leinster.
Former Ireland U-20 captain James Ryan is expected to be involved against France on Saturday as will Jacob Stockdale, who is also blazing a trial.
Jordan Larmour and Andrew Porter may have to wait to make their Six Nations debuts but, like Ringrose, they have seamlessly made the step up from underage level.
"The U-20s prepares you, so it was never actually a massive jump," Ringrose admits. "But for me, I got two years at U-20s and some of the lads have a year or two at it.
"They are more than well-equipped for it, to cope with international level and the fact they have been playing provincially as well helps. I'm looking forward to seeing them play and I wouldn't be surprised if they are involved in a couple of the starting teams."
The excitement around Larmour continues to grow and the word this week is that the 20-year-old has been impressing in training.
Joe Schmidt has been around long enough to know the dangers of throwing a youngster into the deep end in Paris for his international debut, and while Larmour would likely handle the pressure, the Kiwi may instead look at the game against Italy next weekend.
That said, Ringrose, like everyone else, is relishing the prospect of seeing what Larmour can do on the international stage.
"It's pretty cool seeing him coming on when he was in the interpros and then the European games," he enthuses.
"He's really done nothing but just earn his spot, and I don't think anyone can argue with his inclusion in the Six Nations squad. I'm pretty excited to see if he gets capped during it.
"I wouldn't have been as good as him now. It has been special, some of the tries he has scored and some of the performances he's put in. He doesn't over-think it too much, and works incredibly hard. He would be one of the last lads to leave the training ground.
"It is apparent in his performances. It is coming out. If he just sticks to what he's doing, he won't go too far wrong."
Wise words from a player who is still being told the same kind of things from older players. The circle of life.
Ringrose hopes to be back before the end of the Six Nations as he looks to put a nightmare injury spell behind him.
Having missed the first three months of the season after undergoing shoulder surgery, the outside centre damaged his ankle against Ulster on New Year's Day, which saw him having to go under the knife again.
For a player who has never been injured prior to this season, these are strange times for Ringrose, but he is remaining positive, as he can still have a major say in the long road ahead.
"Most guys have usually picked up an injury at some stage in school or at a club, but this is the first time," he explains.
"A few niggles, a stubbed toe, but I have never missed any games through injury. But it's not too bad. Hopefully I won't lose too much ground.
"When you talk to some of the guys who are used to injuries, it's good advice on what to focus on.
"Looking at other guys like Rob Kearney who have been out with injury and even someone like Isa Nacewa, he comes back and he's better than ever so I try and copy and get advice off them."
Since he has been out, Ringrose has watched Chris Farrell and Bundee Aki make their Ireland debuts and impress ever since.
He remains a special talent, however, and the aim now is to get back fully fit, and remind everyone what he is capable of.
"There is always going to be competition, certainly in Ireland," he adds. "That raises the standard of everyone around them so it is not nothing but a good thing really for Ireland." Garry Ringrose was speaking at the announcement of his partnership with PWC, who sponsor the Ireland U-20 team
Independent.ie's U-20s Six Nations coverage is in association with PwC