Garry Ringrose will need to take a big step to replace teammate Robbie Henshaw in Ireland’s Six Nations clash against Wales in two weeks’ time.
Henshaw has been ruled out of the entire championship after undergoing surgery on a shoulder injury sustained in the second half of Saturday’s hammering of Italy at the Aviva Stadium.
Ringrose would be the ideal replacement at outside centre, but speaking at the launch of Leinster’s new partnership with the InterContinental Hotel in Dublin, senior coach Stuart Lancaster revealed the 23-year-old has not trained with his teammates recently.
Since undergoing ankle surgery earlier this year, Ringrose has returned to training alone and is unavailable for this weekend’s Guinness PRO14 clash with Scarlets in the RDS. Munster centre Chris Farrell, or Keith Earls, who replaced Henshaw in midfield against Italy, are two options should Ringrose fail to prove his fitness.
“I don’t think he’ll feature this weekend, but he is close and, obviously, with Robbie’s injury, I think everyone wants to see him back anyway, but we want to make sure he’s 100% right,” said Lancaster.
“I think the sensible thing is for everyone to get game time, so we’ve got [Southern] Kings coming around the corner.”
Leinster welcome the Kings the night before the Wales game, so that date is unlikely to be of any serious help for Ringrose, who injured his ankle against Ulster on January 6.
“He hasn’t actually trained with the team, yet. He’s done work on the side of the pitch — he certainly seems to be running well on the side of the pitch — [but] he hasn’t actually changed direction, made decisions in the moment, etc, so, once he takes that step, we’ll all be in a better idea of where he’s going to be,” said Lancaster.
He said the decision to bring Ringrose back into the Ireland camp or the team belonged to Joe Schmidt, but he felt a return to action after one week of full training was possible.
“If he’s come through [training] on Monday and there’s been no reaction, he could train with our team on Thursday, but it would be too close for him to play Saturday. Then, the following week, we’ll see how he goes,” he said. “It depends on the player, depends on how long they’ve been out, and if one week is enough. It’s not impossible, but it’s a step.”
Seán O’Brien is also unavailable this weekend and looks unlikely to be involved ahead of the Wales game, but Adam Byrne came through the weekend’s loss in Edinburgh without any issues and could be joined in a new look backline by Jordan Larmour on Saturday.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved