Garry Ringrose "wouldn't be disappointed" to miss out on Ireland's South Africa tour

The Leinster star has yet to make his debut for Ireland

ringrose, leinster, rugby, ireland, six nations

Leinster's Garry Ringrose Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

Garry Ringrose is well ahead of schedule from what Brian O'Driscoll expected just over a year ago from the then 20-year-old Leinster academy star.

Ringrose burst into the Leinster squad this season and has played 17 times for the province, scoring two tries. The Blackrock native was one of the most notable omissions from Ireland's Six Nations squad despite the very vocal support of O'Driscoll.

The former Ireland and Leinster player even sent Joe Schmidt a text message before the Six Nations noting Ringrose's progress, but is seems that it fell on deaf ears.

Despite all the calls for the centre's inclusion in the tournament, Ringrose revealed on Wednesday, at the launch of 2016 Bank of Ireland Leinster School of Excellence, that he is enjoying his career progression with Leo Cullen's team.

"I try my hardest to focus on what's important at the moment, and that would be paying attention to the Leinster coaches and the senior players in the squad, trying to improve as much as possible and keep that progression going, so that would be at the forefront of my priorities. I try and keep it that way."

The UCD student remains one of the most talked about players in Ireland, and despite a weight of expectation on his shoulders, he revealed he doesn't mind the attention. Mainly, it's keeping his family busy more than anything else: "To be honest my grandparents enjoy getting the newspaper clippings. I kind of leave it to them and focus on the job on hand."

If Ringrose was disappointed not to make Joe Schmidt's Six Nations side, he definitely doesn't show it: "I certainly can't complain with the position I'm in. Four or five months ago, I wouldn't have predicted the amount of games and opportunities I've got. I certainly haven't been focused on what I haven't achieved this year, I'm just over the moon to get the amount of caps and opportunities that I have had."

"I've learned a few harsh lessons throughout but it has improved me as a player. Playing in my first season at a professional level, I have picked up a few things I wouldn't have known. I'm kinda happy with how things are going and just keep on trying to improve, week on week."

Ringrose was playing for Ireland's Under-20 team last summer in the World Cup. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Matteo Ciambelli

Ireland travel to South Africa in the summer for a three-test series against the Springboks. The tour looks like an ideal opportunity to blood some new players into the squad but Ringrose is only focusing on performances with Leinster. "I've been told from the Leinster coaches and it's the attitude I take, is to just focus on each game and each week and try to progress and improve as much as possible. Personally, I wouldn't look too far ahead and focus on the next challenge."

The 21-year-old is well aware of the quality Ireland have in the centre and he claims a summer away from the Ireland squad would not be the end of the world. "You certainly have to earn your spot. Within Ireland there is so much competition in the centre. I certainly wouldn't be disappointed not being involved considering the players I would be competing against."

Despite not making an appearance yet for the senior team, Ringrose has had a taster for life with the extended squad. He claims it was an invaluable experience. "Anytime you go into Carton House, you come away learning at least one or two things. It's such an intense environment. Everyone is so competitive. Just to be in there and rubbing shoulders with the best guys in the country is eye-opening and a great insight to see what it takes."

Leinster stars Garry Ringrose, Josh van der Flier and Ross Molony were joined by Caoimhe Power (16, Navan RFC) and Sean Dunne (16, Lansdowne FC) at Donnybrook Stadium to mark the launch of the Bank of Ireland Leinster Rugby School of Excellence. 

Thanks to a slew of great performances this season, Ringrose will be making his first appearance in the Aviva Stadium if picked for Leinster on Saturday evening against Munster, an opportunity he describes as "incredible".

What impresses most about Ringrose is the focus he has for the province, despite being one of the juniors in the team. "I would try my hardest not to let the occasion get to the better of me if I was picked. The priority and the focus of the squad is to get the win. That's all that matters."

Garry was speaking at the launch of Bank of Ireland's Leinster School of Excellence which will run in The King’s Hospital School, Palmerstown in July and August. For more information go to leinsterrugby.ie/soe