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Garry Ringrose: ‘The more injuries I’ve gone through, the better I’ve got at watching’

Ireland centre has missed the first three games of the Six Nations having injured his shoulder in Leinster’s clash with Leicester

It’s not all good news stories in the Irish squad. No player in the squad has probably had a more frustrating Six Nations than Garry Ringrose. But for the shoulder injury which he sustained playing for Leinster on the eve of the Championship, the outside centre would assuredly have been an ever present in Ireland’s three wins to date.

He’s been unlucky before, missing out on both the third Test in the series win against the All Blacks and the final leg of last season’s Grand Slam against England in the Aviva Stadium.

The 57-time capped 29-year-old is “hopeful” that his luck will flip ahead of the trek to Twickenham next Saturday week. Ringrose was again seen training at the start of last Friday’s captain’s run, but he has not been taking contact since suffering the injury in Leinster’s Champions Cup win in Leicester six weeks ago.

“I guess it’s a tricky one. You are always treading lightly or trying to get that right because it’s rarely black and white,” he said in balancing a desire to play again without putting himself at risk of worsening the injury.

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“The physios all work really well together with the doctors,” said Ringrose, speaking to the media in his capacity as an ambassador for the National Dairy Council. “I trust them and I think they trust me, so over the next week we will have to keep pushing it more, which we did last week and found its limit.

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

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He admits wryly: “The more injuries I’ve gone through, the better I’ve got at watching and understanding I can’t actually influence anything at all. I’m balancing turning back into a supporter with understanding what they’re doing and trying to figure it out while watching from a different perspective.”

With that in mind, he says: “It’s been a dream start to the Six Nations, to pick up 15 points after three games. “That game in France was incredible. I was watching on TV and it was just unreal to see the lads being cohesive right from the start of the competition and that’s continued now into the next two games.”

Hence though, even if fully recovered come Twickenham, it’s hard to envisage the Bundee Aki-Robbie Henshaw partnership being broken up, although one imagines Ringrose would have enough credit in the bank to earn a place on the bench.

But as for banishing talk of the Grand Slam? Never mind one game at a time, Ringrose is in next day at a time mode.

“With an injury, you’re just focusing on the next day and being better the next day than you were the day before,” he reasons.

“Equally, winning games in the Six Nations is so competitive so it’s just focusing on the next game,” he adds, citing the scale of the challenge against France in Marseille, the “huge amount of respect” they have for the Italians - pointing to their draw with Les Bleus last Sunday - and the problems a new-look Wales caused last Saturday at the Aviva.

“So, for each game, what I’m trying to say is, you have to be all hands on deck. There is no room to look ahead. You have to look at the game in front of you, and now we’ve England who are defending differently to how we would have faced in the past and then attacking wise, when we put it together, they are unbelievably dangerous and looking beyond them would be a detriment to ourselves.”

Although Ireland beat England by 32-17 at a fiercely partisan Twickenham two seasons ago, it wasn’t without its wobbles despite a second minute red card for the home lock Charlie Ewels just 82 seconds into that encounter.

What’s more, that was merely a second win in Ireland’s last nine visits to south-west London.

Ireland have won their last four meetings with England after adding a World Cup warm-up victory last August to three in a row in the Six Nations, but even this sequence has underlined how, according to Ringrose: “You kind of need everything to go relatively well in different aspects of the game.

“Like, 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.

“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 those unforced errors but their defence can cause that in teams.

“The pressure at the breakdown, their intensity, they make you work for everything, and it will kill our attack if we over commit 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 backfield right to deny them access is massive as well.

“So, like any game, it’s a bit of everything but over in Twickenham they don’t give up much so you just need to be unbelievably clinical.”

Gerry Thornley

Gerry Thornley

Gerry Thornley is Rugby Correspondent of The Irish Times