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Ringrose: It’s An Exciting Challenge, You Need To Be Unbelievably Clinical Against England

Ringrose: It’s An Exciting Challenge, You Need To Be Unbelievably Clinical Against England

Garry Ringrose is pictured training with the Ireland squad last week ahead of their Guinness Men's Six Nations victory over Wales ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

If you look back at the Ireland Men’s last two Grand Slam-winning campaigns, Garry Ringrose returned for injury for pivotal round four wins over Scotland in both years. History could repeat itself on Saturday week, with England the opposition this time around.

Injuries during the Six Nations window have unfortunately become a regular occurrence for Ringrose, who is currently recovering from a shoulder problem that kept him out of Ireland’s opening three wins of 2024 against France, Italy, and Wales.

He was involved every game of the 2017 and 2022 Six Nations tournaments, and was also ever-present in the number 13 jersey during the recent Rugby World Cup. However, he has not played since Leinster’s Investec Champions Cup win away to Leicester Tigers last month.

Giving a positive update on his injury as he spoke as ambassador for the National Dairy Council and the NDC Guarantee Mark, he said: “It’s going well, it’s obviously been tough, missing out on being available for the last three games but the rehab is progressing well.

“I’m hoping, all going well, to be available for the last two games. We have this week, the timing of the second down week is probably good to give an extra few days to hopefully get it right. That’s the plan, to be available.

“I’ve hurt that shoulder in the past but it was in the Leicester game where I picked up a couple of knocks on it. I was able to play the game through and only flagged it with the medics afterwards.

“It probably had some time for swelling and irritation to build up in the joint, and then a few things shut down that needed to get back firing again. Thankfully, the lads (in the medical team) have been all over it and helped me massively in the last couple of weeks.”

Ringrose knows he has a job on his hands in order to get back into the starting XV, with Bundee Aki maintaining his impressive form from the World Cup, Robbie Henshaw getting three starts under his belt at outside centre, and Stuart McCloskey playing the full 80 minutes against Italy.

The 29-year-old Dubliner admitted that ‘watching on can be a little tricky sometimes’, but he will certainly not lack for motivation as he praised his team-mates for making ‘a dream start’ to the Championship which has left them just two wins away from back-to-back Grand Slams.

“The competitor in me would love to try and be out there (against England next week). I feel lucky to be able to still be in the environment and Faz (Andy Farrell) keeping me in there, even though I have an injury.

“Even if I am fit and available, whether I’ll do enough to get into the team because the lads have been going so well, I guess I can’t control that. I never will and never have (had control) but seeing the lads go well and win, it feeds the appetite to try and get back and help the team out.

“Whether that is playing or being an extra for training or trying to get them right during the week. It’s motivating to try and get back and contribute something.

“Thankfully I’ve been able to stay in the environment with the guys, and try and help where I can and train some weeks as well. From that perspective, it’s gone really well. Hopefully this week it goes well and I’ll be available for the last two.”

Ringrose, who joined Aki as the centre pairing in the World Rugby Men’s 15s Dream Team of the Year for 2023, was having a good run of matches with Leinster in the run-up to the Six Nations. He played all bar 11 minutes of their Champions Cup pool campaign.

He also stepped up to co-captain the province alongside James Ryan, and those leadership skills and experience – all 57 caps’ worth – would be valuable assets for Ireland’s Twickenham trip as they prepare to face an England team smarting from their Calcutta Cup loss to Scotland.

He has experienced more highs than lows against England in his international career to date, winning four out of six Tests and scoring two tries. Two of those victories were in London, for the 2018 Grand Slam, and in 2022 when Charlie Ewels was sent off inside the opening minutes.

“You kind of need everything to go relatively well in terms of different aspects of the game,” Ringrose said of what it takes to beat England on their home patch, in front of 80,000-plus spectators.

The set-piece has to deliver to a certain level, the scrum and lineout, you have to be disciplined to deny them access into your 22.

“When you enter their 22, it’s stating the obvious, but you’ve got to come away with three or five points, especially now with how they defend you have to be really good with the ball because they’ll put us under pressure no doubt.

“So, coughing up possession or giving turnovers will be detrimental to us, but probably they fell victim to that a little bit against Scotland with some of them unforced errors but their defence can cause that in teams.

“So, it’s a bit of everything. The pressure at the breakdown, their intensity, they make you work for everything, and it will kill our attack if we overcommit as well, so the breakdown will be huge.

“The kicking battle as well with George Ford, we’ve seen him rip teams apart with his kicking ability, so it’s getting the back-field right to deny them access is massive as well.

“Over in Twickenham they don’t give up much so you just need to be unbelievably clinical. We’re well aware of that challenge and then also England, whether it’s at home or away, especially the transition they’ve gone through or are going through, they are an unbelievably tough team to play against.

“They are piecing things together and looking better. They’ll be disappointed with the Scotland game (a 30-21 defeat), but there is so much in their game that’s a huge threat and then also a defence to play against.

“How they are defending now is different gravy altogether to what we’ve experienced in the last two years you know. Yeah, an exciting challenge ahead.”

Ireland fans will get a glimpse at how Ringrose is progressing ahead of next week’s penultimate round showdown, when Farrell’s men hold an open training session at the Aviva Stadium on Thursday morning.

His return to contact training and how that is managed will be vital, with the 2020 Rugby Players Ireland and Rugby Writers of Ireland Player of the Year acknowledging: “The medical staff do everything to get it right but they also don’t push it unnecessarily, so they have a really good gauge.

I have trust in them in what they think and then they also trust me in terms of what I’m feeling and thinking. That honesty gets us to a right decision ultimately.

“Through training hopefully that limit has been pushed, and we’ll get to a point where contact is perfect and I don’t have to think about it and it’ll be no problem. So, that’s what I’m hoping for.”

Last week’s 31-7 triumph over Wales means Ireland have now won their last 11 Six Nations matches, the joint-most by any team in the history of the Championship, equalling England’s run of 11 victories between 2015 and 2017.

The third round results leave Farrell’s charges six points clear at the top of the table, with Scotland, the final round visitors to Dublin, leading the chasers, sitting a point ahead of third-placed England following their five-try encounter in Edinburgh.

Talk of a potential Grand Slam may be increasing outside of camp, but for Ringrose and his team-mates, there is no fear of them looking beyond an England side that took plenty of wearing down last March, despite Freddie Steward’s red card.

“Winning games in the Six Nations is so competitive, so it’s just focusing on the next day,” insisted Ringrose. “That was obvious with France, how big a challenge that was going to be and how tough a challenge that was going to be, and the lads fronted up.

“Italy again showed their quality by drawing against France in France. We have a huge amount of respect for the Italians, how they attack, so to hold them to zero was unbelievable because when you analyse their threats, they have plenty of them and very good structures to their attack.

“Then Wales, when you compare them to the team from twelve months ago, there were only a handful (of the same players) there and they’re at a different stage. You could see how hard they were working for each other, and the problems they caused our lads at times.

“So each game, you have to be all hands on deck. There is no room for looking beyond the one in front of you.

“Now we’ve England, who are defending differently to how we would have faced them in the past. In attack they can be unbelievably dangerous as well. To look beyond them at Twickenham would be detrimental to ourselves.”