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Ringrose happy to step up into leadership role as Toulouse tie looms



Bright future: Garry Ringrose is aware of Toulouse threat

Bright future: Garry Ringrose is aware of Toulouse threat

©INPHO/Oisin Keniry

Bright future: Garry Ringrose is aware of Toulouse threat

On the pitch, Garry Ringrose exudes a sense of calm that those around him clearly feed off, and off it, he displays all the mannerisms of a relentlessly driven individual who is determined not to miss a beat.

There has been a shift in what is being asked of the supremely talented 23-year-old in the last six months and that was evident in November, particularly in Ireland's final game against USA.

It was telling that Joe Schmidt even opted to play Ringrose in that facile victory, yet the Ireland coach's intention was clear, as he looked to further his development as one of his side's main leaders.

A snapshot of that was seen after USA scored their first try, as Ringrose called his team-mates together for a few home truths.

With Johnny Sexton and Robbie Henshaw doubtful to face Toulouse in Leinster's crunch Champions Cup clash on Saturday (1pm), Ringrose will be expected to help fill what would be a massive leadership void.

If the key duo do miss out, Ringrose will almost certainly have a 10 and 12 inside of him with far less experience.

From that end, the work that Schmidt, Leo Cullen and Stuart Lancaster have done with Ringrose will be expected to come to the fore.

Not that the former Blackrock student sees it like that, however.

"I think it's pretty similar, no matter what team goes out the squad all have their individual roles," the fleet-footed outside centre maintains.

"It doesn't really matter who you are, there wouldn't be much rank if there's something that needs to be said or someone feels needs to be said, it's said by whoever it is, really.

"I try to be me, give my best for the team, and if something needs to be said, I don't try and over-think it, just say what needs to be said.

"That can be the same for anyone in the group. It doesn't matter if you've 100 caps, or one cap. If you have something that can contribute, then don't hold it back.

"Stuart has encouraged myself and loads of others to contribute. As younger guys, it might be easier to take a back seat and think other guys are going to control the direction of the team.

"You have lads like James Ryan, people like that, it's important they grab hold of it and be aware that it's their team as much as anyone else."

Ringrose is developing into an outstanding reader of the game and while he continues to offer much in attack, it is his defence that has markedly improved lately.

Against Toulouse, and Sofiane Guitoune, who caused Leinster plenty of problems in the reverse in October, Ringrose knows that he will have plenty of heavy traffic coming down his channel.

"The four stars they have on their jersey, seeing that - especially over there - is a reminder of the teams who have gone before them," Ringrose says.

"They seem to have reinstated that flair and pride. I don't think it ever wavered. No team can be at the top forever.

"But they've certainly shown when we were over there what it means to play for Toulouse and whether guys are from France, Toulouse, or even some of the foreign players, they are all playing with 100% commitment.

"They seem to have a great team ethos and the crowd is phenomenal. I've no doubt they'll have similar travelling support and they'll be rallying together.

"Because they're so dangerous, even in their own 22, you can't cough up easy possession to them. So it is just trying to control the ball as best you can.

"I think if you just give it to their back-three, they're just so dangerous that each kick has to have a purpose, whether it's contestable or finding grass, or even putting it out.

"But you just can't afford to kick loosely to them... I think that ball control and some loose kicks didn't help us the last time around."

There were plenty of lessons learned from the defeat in Toulouse and Leinster know that they can ill-afford another slow start against a sleeping giant which is certainly showing strong signs of edging back to its former sparkling and dominant best.

"I just think they are an incredibly tough side, that's stating the obvious," Ringrose adds.

"Their form at the moment, they haven't lost since we played them. I think the brand of rugby that they play, no matter the opposition they seem to come up against, it just poses a real threat attacking-wise and then they have the athletic players who can back it up defensively as well.

"The threats they pose, some of the tries they scored, looking back and doing your analysis on them, a lot of the time, it mightn't be structured tries that have been built but they are just individual brilliance right across the pitch and that France flair."

Belfast Telegraph