Thursday, 19 September, 2019

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‘Ringrose could lose out on centre role’

Brian O’Driscoll believes Garry Ringrose’s place in the Ireland starting XV is in doubt. Bundee Aki and Robbie Henshaw teamed up impressively against Wales last weekend, in Henshaw’s first game of the season, and many believe the former Connacht pair should team up in Japan.

The pair have featured only fleetingly since Aki’s debut, in 2017, mostly due to injury to Henshaw, with Ringrose starting more games alongside the Connacht midfielder.

Joe Schmidt has talked up Ringrose’s versatility and he played on the wing against Wales last weekend, leading O’Driscoll to think the Leinster man could be on the bench against Scotland.

“The more I have mulled over it, the more I thought if Garry was going to be playing against Scotland, he would have been playing over the weekend,” he said. “That said, would I be shocked if he was given a start on the wing? Maybe not. I thought he was very effective on the wing, even if he might have had a few missed tackles. I know it is not his natural position, but he brings a wealth of experience.

He is probably lacking a bit of confidence himself; things haven’t quite gone his way thus far. Sometimes, when it is not going for you, you have to go and get it for yourself and I just felt he had done that enough….but on the basis of not playing Saturday and the boys going well, I would imagine that it mightn’t be looking brilliant for the Scotland game, but he is a shoo-in for the 23, now that he is playing on the wing.

Ringrose missed three tackles in his time off the bench, a repeat of the same tally from the week earlier. But O’Driscoll says he shouldn’t be judged by numbers alone. “Sometimes, as a winger, the misses, if you take them in isolation, they can look worse than they are,” he said.

“Owen Farrell misses a huge amount of tackles, but are you thinking of not picking Owen Farrell? But what does he do with those shots? It might be a big shot and he doesn’t finish the tackle, but then someone comes in and mops up, but he is putting huge pressure on that person that he has ‘missed’.

“It is a bit simplistic to say that, statistically, a player has missed ‘X’ amount of tackles. There is a story behind all of that. You need the visual of watching the game along with that, so I don’t buy that it is as a cut-and-dry ‘if you have missed 50% of your tackles on the wing’.

“What have those 50% led to? How many scores; how many line-breaks? They are the stats you need to properly look at.”

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