With the departure of Chris Farrell and Robbie Henshaw from the Irish camp due to injury, it looks more certain that Garry Ringrose will make an appearance in the 6 Nations as he nears his return.
It may be seen as a sight for sore eyes, that both Farrell and Henshaw having to leave the Irish squad, with Henshaw having been ruled out with a shoulder injury suffered against Italy, and Chris Farrell suffering a knee injury, after giving a man of the match display in a vital victory over the Welsh last weekend. Due to these injuries, Ringrose may be thrown in the deep end against a Scottish side who, having beaten England for the first time since 2008, are hungry for more.
However, the fear Joe Schmidt has with Ringrose is that he currently have very little game time under his belt since that ankle injury against Ulster in December, only playing 55 minutes against the Southern Kings in the Pro14. Despite this, the 23-year-old Leinster man looked sharp in the run out.
At the start of the tournament, what most people spoke of was the centre partnership between Bundee Aki and Robbie Henshaw. It seems now that people are concerned because Aki and Ringrose have never played together, and this seems to be a major area of concern going into the final two games. However, many are willing to take the risk and start Ringrose in the centre position, even former Irish international Hugo MacNeill would take the risk with the young Leinster man.
“He’s a very good player, he’s played in the national squad, he’s played a lot of Test matches, he’s a natural centre…he’s played all his life there and his instincts are that [of a 13].” MacNeill told RTE recently.
What makes him so sure that the inclusion of Ringrose would work is that he has played with Sexton before at Leinster, and this experience alone would be of great benefit to him.
“He’s played with Johnny Sexton…I would play him. But whoever plays, if they play like they did on Saturday, won’t let us down.”
However, Schmidt is happy to have Ringrose back in his squad, and if he does chose to have an Aki-Ringrose centre partnershio, it will be the 25th of his Irish managerial career. The Ireland coach will be hoping that Ringrose can hit the ground running, with his pace and line breaks, as he faces two of the most difficult games of his Ireland career to date.
Luke Holmes. Pundit Arena