Highlights on Off The Ball

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Highlights on Off The Ball


Why Gary Ringrose is even better than you think - Brian O'Driscoll

Brian O'Driscoll explains that Gary Ringrose's performances for Ireland are not adequately quantified by stats or his perception.

Brian O'Driscoll joined Joe Molloy to review Ireland's big win against South Africa and highlight Gary Ringrose.

Ireland beat South Africa 19-16 on Saturday in the Aviva Stadium.

After winning a tour in New Zealand and beating the World Champions, the only thing left for this team to do is win the Six Nations and the World Cup. Or at least win one of them as Johnny Sexton points out this team has won neither so far.

Gary Ringrose will be at the centre of anything Ireland win. If Ireland win anything.

The Leinster centre is less celebrated than Sexton or Tadhg Furlong, but he's right next to them as a shoe-in starter for Ireland. If he's healthy, he plays. And he's rarely hurt. Ringrose is a combination of highlight-reel explosiveness and excitement as well as subtle actions away from the play that have a big impact.

O'Driscoll explains that the numbers don't always do Ringrose's performances justice. "He had a really, really good game," O'Driscoll said.

"And listen there will always be a couple of numbers besides him of missed tackles on people, but what you can't put into context there is what his body position has looked like to stop the ball getting outside him. And he doesn't get a full shot on someone but yet there's not line breaks that come from it.

"You can't just look at the minutes entirely on pure stats. You have to view what the individual does to stop a greater threat."

O'Driscoll might know a thing or two about defending the 13 channel. It's famously one of the most difficult things to do in rugby, defend as an outside centre. But while Ringrose has mastered that craft, he was asked to do something completely different on Saturday against South Africa.

Ringrose moved from outside centre to inside centre and had to face off against Damien De Allende et al.

"The venomous nature of his hits I think has improved. His timing is excellent. He's a big enough guy and he's obviously 27/28 now so he's filled out and he's in the peak of his powers. But there's a nastier edge to him now I think and a real physicality that maybe he didn't possess previously or that he didn't get credit for.

"I thought he was excellent. Besides his ball carrying, just his defensive work of making big hits."

Ireland face Fiji on Saturday. They play Australia the following week. Ringrose might feature against Australia, but he does not need to play either game. After proving himself an international 12 as well as 13, he can step aside and wait for the Six Nations.

Ireland can instead use his spot to focus on the development of further depth. Stuart McCloskey remained with the squad despite his injury against South Africa. Robbie Henshaw will need to play at least one of the remaining two games and Jimmy O'Brien deserves another chance at 13 after his impressive debut against South Africa.

But neither Ciaran Frawley nor James Hume are in the squad for Fiji.

The Joey Carbery plan.

Team of Us. Everyone In.

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Brian O'Driscoll Gary Ringrose Ireland Ireland Rugby Robbie Henshaw Stuart Mccloskey