Thursday 23 November 2017

'There's pressure, but I love every second' - Garry Ringrose

Ireland's Garry Ringrose. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Ireland's Garry Ringrose. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

It is little wonder that Joe Schmidt holds Garry Ringrose in such high regard.

Not only is the 22-year-old outside-centre a natural athlete with a clever rugby instinct whose running-style evokes memories of Brian O'Driscoll in his prime, but off it he is an unfailingly polite, well-educated young man whose sole aim in life appears to be self-improvement.

Take his sensational try in Ireland's big win over Italy in Rome, when he cut inside to skin three Italian defenders to score from 40 metres. He touched down, turned around with barely the hint of a smile and headed back to half-way.

Ringrose's parents were in the crowd, it was his first Six Nations score and it came on the back of a difficult afternoon a week previously.

It was a moment you'd hope he'll remember for the rest of his life as one of pure joy, yet the way he tells it speaks volumes about his approach.

There is the humility, the self-awareness and the analytical rugby brain that belies the fact that only two seasons ago he was one of the U-20s trying to impress Schmidt as he trained against the seniors.

"Yeah, it was lucky I suppose. A little hole opened up," said Ringrose (pictured) of the score. "My parents were over, it was special having them there and it was pretty excited to win for Ireland in the Six Nations and get a try as well.

"These things unfold and when you've Paddy (Jackson) inside controlling it. . . before we ran the switch, he shaped to kick and that probably manipulated their back-field a little bit and that little subtlety meant that once I got through the half-gap I just had to run straight.

"It's a combination of the work that's going on around that maybe leads to individuals scoring tries."

Rome was Ringrose's fifth cap; he made his debut in November against Canada after spending the entirety of the win over New Zealand on the bench and grabbed his first try in the defeat of Australia four weeks later.

The key theme that crops up time and time again as he speaks is learning.

He is still studying Business and Law in UCD, but outside the classroom he is constantly looking for lessons.

The loss to Scotland was Ringrose's first Six Nations game and while he wasn't spooked - the word Schmidt used to describe some of his charges' failure to get going - he did find it a step up.

"It was tough," he said. "They have so many threats, especially across the backline and it showed with the tries they scored.

"So, we learnt a lesson or two in that regard in terms of getting the width in defence so we can come off square rather than chasing out and giving them time and space.

"I was able to learn a bit from that game and that's what I tried to hopefully bring in to Italy and beyond.

"Collectively, I think everyone knew they could have been 10pc better and it was little patches in certain areas of the field that we can get better at.

"I don't think it was over-confidence; we'd spoken about the threats that Scotland posed so we knew we'd have to bring our 'A'-game if we wanted to get any sort of result there, and we were that bit off.

"Credit to them, they played really well. We can't just say it was our bad performance, they played well and deserved the result."

It has helped too that he has had his Leinster partner Robbie Henshaw alongside him in recent weeks. The pair are still getting to know one another and, while the Athlone native is just 18 months older than Ringrose, he has accumulated 26 caps over four seasons and is the experienced man in the 10-12-13 axis.

"I've been lucky to have had the chance to play with him at Leinster because when it comes to Ireland and the Six Nations I get a little bit of a sense of where he might be," said Ringrose.

Mountain

"I haven't noticed too much difference, he gets through a mountain of work so it's just trying to keep up with him.

"He also covers my ass a bit, so I do feel lucky playing with him.

"Thankfully we did get a chance to play with Jacko during autumn, so it wasn't completely foreign in the Six Nations.

"We pick up just as much in training as we do matches playing with each other."

It's serious business, but Ringrose recognises the importance of enjoying it all even as he focuses on learning, the process and knowing his roles.

"There's a lot of pressure, but I love every second of it. I can't find fault at all, it's a learning process and I know myself, I'm certainly not getting too far ahead of myself," he said.

"I've only got a handful of caps, I'm just trying to learn and enjoy every second of the opportunities I do get, whether it's training days like this or getting the chance to play in a match."

Irish Independent

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