Ireland centre Garry Ringrose believes that himself and the rest of his teammates will need to improve on the performance which saw his side run out 54-7 winners against Italy in order to get a victory against Argentina this weekend.
“I think it probably has to come up a notch [the performance],” Ringrose said on Monday.
“I think both teams on Saturday were guilty of a few mistakes that you can’t afford to make against a team like Argentina. So I’d say everyone will need to step up that little bit.”
Argentina have always been a side who pride themselves on the performance of their pack but we have recently seen the emergence of an expansive, offloading game based around some pretty talented individuals in the backline. This is something which has not gone unnoticed by Ringrose as he explains:
“Individually, they’re very strong. Certainly, across the backline, they have guys who can beat you one-on-one any day of the week. I think that will be a huge challenge, the individual battles. Certainly, defensively, because obviously on attack they’re so good. I think their shape has improved year on year, you can see they’re getting to the edge more effectively and they’re pretty good at winning the gain line.
“If you don’t match them up front, it can be a long day as they have shown in the games just gone. It will be a combination of matching them in a physical battle that we know they bring, as well as being prepared for the attacking flow wider that they have.”
Although just two wins from this year’s Rugby Championship may suggest a side who are in poor form – those two victories came against an ever-improving Springboks side and an away victory against the Wallabies.
During that competition, they also gave the All Blacks quite a scare in Nelson where Argentina trailed their opponents by only four points in the second half. This isn’t lost on Ringrose as he recalls some of the individual displays of that day.
“I can’t remember the number but the amount of defenders beaten and linebreaks they [Argentina] had was pretty high that day in New Zealand and not many teams can come away with stats like that.
“So, you can’t underestimate them in the slightest because they have proven that they can do it and as you said, they’ve been pretty close to one or two things going differently that they would have gotten the win.”
Ireland’s defence will likely get a much tougher test on Saturday than what they experienced against Conor O’Shea’s side and as an outside centre, Ringrose has to defend in one of the most difficult positions on the pitch.
Coming up against an Argentina side who love to throw the ball about, Ringrose is adamant that defensive structure and success is all about the collective.
“It would be about everybody being on the same page with our defensive system and whatever the call is, it’s usually that everyone is on the same page and does the same thing, it’s about backing each other up to break down the threat. So it will probably be pretty important, the inside hussle.
“This week, with guys being able to beat guys one-on-one, that if they step back inside there will be an increased emphasis on the guy inside to cover the guy outside you. That’s probably one element. In any kind of defensive system, you want to stick to what works and that will be a challenge obviously with the expansive game that they play.”
Reflecting on his own performance against Italy, the 23-year-old admits there are a few things that he could have done better in the 80 minutes he got under his belt. In particular, he admits he was beaten on his inside shoulder a few times during the game, something which he will no doubt be aiming to fix in training this week.
“In terms of my own game, I don’t know, I got beaten once or twice on the inside shoulder on the last day and probably opportunities to make more aggressive impact tackles that I didn’t take full advantage of, so that will be something for me, if I do get the shot this week to look to improve on.”
Although he has to focus on himself when it comes to certain defensive responsibilities, Ringrose reveals the overall success is based around the collective and that if everyone implements the plan correctly, it makes his life and that of the team, a whole lot easier.
“It can be difficult at 13 but it’s usually helped or dependent on everyone else around you. Some games would be pretty easy for me at 13 when everyone else gets their stuff right so it’s kind of a collective thing, it never relies on one person defensively.”
Looking ahead to the challenge which faces him and his teammates on Saturday, ultimately, Ringrose believes that they need to better than when they faced Argentina this time last year – a game in which the southern hemisphere nation scored three second-half tries which made what looked to be a comfortable win, that little bit more difficult.
“I think the game last year, I didn’t play it, but from watching that, the tries they scored late on. It was a good start from the lads out there and then ultimately they came back into it so they’re probably looking at that game saying ‘if we just negate their start and then ultimately score the tries we know we can’, that’s probably what they will be looking at from their point of view so, on the flip side, we’re going to have to try and be better than we were last year.”
Ireland v Argentina takes place this Saturday with a kick-off time of 6.30 pm.