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Leinster v Ulster Pro12 semi-final: Ringrose is ready to put Trimble in his place this time after having progress halted

By David Kelly

Published 18/05/2016

Battle: Garry Ringrose faces another tough examination against Ulster
Battle: Garry Ringrose faces another tough examination against Ulster

Always keep your eye on the ball, they say. Really? All the time? Try telling Garry Ringrose.

It is only a few weeks ago now, but the Leinster man's season-long graduation was destined to receive one of its most jarring volts of energy from a traditional power source.

A tackle from Andrew Trimble in boisterous Belfast which almost sent him back beyond the border. The locals hooted, with wickedly inflected good nature, their delight and derision, in equal measure.

Chastened, Ringrose was not alone in being coursed by the locals on a day when the visitors were embarrassingly cack-handed in almost all they ventured to achieve. Still, it hurt him because it happened to him.

"I said to my friends that I could take comfort in knowing that I wasn't the first person he's done that to," he smiles.

"He's one of the best wingers in the world at that defensively."

He realised he had kept his eyes on the pill for far longer than necessary; hence, he missed the onrushing car crash impact. Bad medicine.

"I got caught a bit flat, ball watching and probably didn't scan as early as I should have. It was too late once I got the ball in my hands," he concedes.

"I called for it so, yeah, I'll learn from it. Hopefully it doesn't happen again, but I've no doubt someone will fall victim to an Andrew Trimble hit on Friday. Hopefully it won't be me this time," he said of the Pro12 semi-final clash at the RDS.

It was a rare backward step during a season in which Ringrose has come of age; he did, after all, turn 21 in January. He has been quietly impressive on the field and impressively quiet off it, too.

Others - plenty of them -have talked for him. There was initial commotion about the Six Nations as Ireland tried vainly to forget the calamitous World Cup; it didn't happen despite cacophonous media cheer-leading.

He has since been drafted into the Ireland squad; now, it seems, his career may be stymied by someone else who has never played for Ireland either; indeed, a player who may yet opt to don an All Blacks jumper for all we know.

And so Ringrose is unwittingly drafted into the shark-infested waters of World Rugby's daft eligibility laws. His fend is impressive.

"I try not to think about it," he demurs when asked about Bundee Aki's potential residency qualification next summer. On second thoughts, he does think about it.

"There's two ways to think about it. As a player I want to be competitive and try to reach the highest point possible which would be to play for Ireland. It's going to be competitive regardless.

"The other half of me is just as much of an Ireland fan as you. And if Bundee Aki playing would contribute to Ireland's success then I'd be all for it."

Languid elegance and deceptively quick in thought and deed.

It hasn't all been plain sailing, though; in Belfast, it seemed as if Ben Te'o were a one-man midfield for much of the piece. In Galway, he admits that he didn't make the impact upon the game he wanted to; albeit, both days his team also collectively subsided.

Friday's clash with Ulster is the biggest game of Leinster's season. Ringrose's examination will be the stiffest yet of a breakthrough campaign.

Belfast Telegraph

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