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Ringrose 'lucky' to be playing for Ireland as Lions hopes fade

By Robert Jones

Garry Ringrose is refusing to get distracted by a possible British and Irish Lions call-up as he concentrates on delivering for Ireland during their summer tour of the United States and Japan.

The 22-year-old centre was unlucky to miss the cut for Warren Gatland's 41-man Lions squad, and responded to his omission with a stunning display in Leinster's 27-22 defeat by Clermont in the Champions Cup semi-final.

Ringrose scored a sublime solo try that day which was reminiscent of Brian O'Driscoll's unforgettable effort for the Lions against Australia in Brisbane back in 2001.

Gatland has name-checked Ringrose several times when asked about potential players on standby, should injury claim one of his front-line midfielders on the gruelling 10-game trip to New Zealand, but Ringrose is focused on doing a job for Ireland.

"That's the least of my worries," he said of the Lions talk.

"I feel so lucky to go and represent Ireland for the next three weeks against USA and Japan. This time last year I missed out on a summer tour (in South Africa).

"I appreciate the fact that I am pretty lucky, from where I have come from last year to come and play on the summer tour. It wouldn't be too much of a concern. Hopefully we get the matches (in New Zealand) up on the projector and support the lads that are there."

Ringrose has enjoyed a breakout season in the green jersey. An unused substitute during Ireland's brilliant victory over the All Blacks in Chicago on November 5, he won his first cap against Canada the following week.

He featured in the unfamiliar position of inside centre in the rematch with New Zealand for 70 minutes at the Aviva Stadium after Robbie Henshaw was forced off with concussion, before playing a starring role at number 12 in Ireland's 27-24 win over Australia.

The former Blackrock College star was ever-present during Ireland's Six Nations campaign and is set to play a pivotal role for his country over the coming weeks.

"It is a bit of a roller coaster," Ringrose said.

"I was involved in all of the Six Nations games which was a big learning experience for me. And then getting a bit of disappointment with Leinster with the way we finished the year. A lot of rugby has been played since November."

Meanwhile, Ulster No.10 Paddy Jackson has returned home for personal reasons, with Leinster youngster Joey Carbery set to start at fly-half against the United States on Saturday.

Jackson is set to rejoin the squad in Tokyo next week.

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