Leinster’s South African international Zane Kirchner has heaped praise on the province’s young star, Garry Ringrose.
Ringrose’srun of fine form has been rewarded with inclusion in an extended Irish training panel at Carton House at the weekend, and Kirchner — who featured for South Africa in their surprise opening game defeat to Japan at last year’s Rugby World Cup — predicts big things for the Dublin native.
“I’ve only really played with him [Ringrose] for two games since I’ve been back from the World Cup. Garry’s agility and footwork is quite good,” Kirchner admitted.
“He’s been carrying the ball on both ends, and that probably makes it much more difficult for defenders to pick up, whether he’s going to pass or keep hold of the ball.
“As everybody knows, he’s one for the future, and being called up into the Irish squad just shows the quality of him.”
Four consecutive defeats have effectively ruled Leinster out of contention in the European Champions Cup, but back-to-back successes against their interprovincial rivals have fired them to second in the Guinness Pro12 table with a game in hand.
Though he acknowledges a strong league position could work to their benefit in relation to next season’s Champions Cup, Kirchner is adamant they should be focusing on their current league campaign, which continues on Friday night away to Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium.
“I don’t think we’re focusing on our pool, it’s about ending strong in this year’s Pro12 league. I think our focus is on how we can compete this season, and then next season will look after itself.
“Finishing higher will give us an easier pool [in the Champions Cup], but it’s probably better not to focus on this when we’re currently busy with our league.
“At the end of the day, whoever we get next season in Europe, or whatever pool we fall into, that will sort out itself.”
Kirchner had to settle for a place among the replacements for last Friday’s win over Connacht, but in the 24-7 win over Munster on December 27, he registered his first try of the season.
He started this game in his natural position of full-back and, considering how comprehensively they were defeated in the corresponding fixture last season, Kirchner was pleased with the way the team performed in Thomond Park.
“I think the most important thing going into that game [was] coming from last year and having all those regrets and bad feelings about what we experienced down there last year. I think that [win] was probably so much more enjoyable,” Kirchner added.
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