Garry Ringrose believes Ireland have not suffered a psychological blow going into this year’s World Cup after their 25-7 humbling by Wales.
Saturday’s loss in Cardiff was a second defeat of the 2019 Guinness Six Nations, following the opening-round home loss to England, but Ireland’s outside centre Ringrose, a Grand Slam winner 12 months ago, sees the campaign as a chance to learn valuable lessons ahead of the trip to Japan in search of World Cup glory this autumn.
“I don’t think it’s about damaging confidence,” said Ringrose. “You can’t win them all.
“I was lucky enough to be involved last year in a lot of wins and then, this year obviously, the two defeats let us down, but that’s what motivates you to keep going.
“Some of the games last year were won on fine margins, and games this year I thought were lost on fine margins. Especially after last year, I was under no illusions about how tight games are and how lucky we were to fall on the right side and I think we were a little bit unlucky to fall on the wrong side of them this year.
Speaking after Saturday’s loss, head coach Joe Schmidt said Wales had been like his own side a year ago at Twickenham, when clinching the Grand Slam, they had been given an extra 5% motivation and energy going into the final round because of the opportunity in front of them to achieve a rare feat.
However, Ringrose disputed the suggestion that meant Wales had wanted victory more than the Irish at the Principality Stadium.
“To say they wanted it more... I’ve no doubt they had no shortage of motivation, but as a player the worst thing to come away from a game, whether you win or lose, is to say that the opposition wanted it more. I don’t think that’s ever the case with this group. We can lose games or be beaten up, whether it’s against England or Wales like that, but I don’t think it boils down to the opposition, or individuals, wanting it more, because I consider myself lucky to be part of the group with the desire and motivation that’s there, from the leaders right down to everyone else, so, no, I think wins and losses fall on other things apart from that.”
Ringrose, 24, said Ireland would be better for the experience of playing in this season’s Six Nations when injuries throughout the squad had meant more selection changes than in previous campaigns, including midfield, where Leinster team-mate Robbie Henshaw has been missing since the opening round.
“Bundee [Aki] is phenomenal. I consider myself lucky to play alongside either of them and Chris [Farrell] as well, but whatever about me, I think the group would love to have Robbie out there. He’s such an influence on everyone, on and off the pitch. So someone like him is always missed, but you’ve got to roll with the punches.
“I think last year we got a couple of injuries and it was probably good for the squad that guys had to come in and out and we had to build that cohesion together. Obviously, with eyes shifting towards the end of the year now, it’s probably no harm that a lot of guys played, and we tried out different combinations. Hopefully, it will make the group better.”