Ringrose, Conan return a boost to Leinster's hopes

football12 June 2024 07:04
By:Brenden Nel
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Garry Ringrose © Gallo Images

The return of Irish internationals Garry Ringrose and Jack Conan has only made a tough Leinster team even more powerful and made the Vodacom Bulls' task even more difficult as they prepare to face them in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship semifinal at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

The amount of caps and experience that Leinster already boast without these two internationals is already immense, with their quarterfinal matchday 23 against the Ospreys having no less than 2451 caps between them - including a massive 1018 on the bench.

The addition of Ringrose, who has struggled with injury all season and returns at a crucial point for them, is key, especially as he adds another 117 caps to the team if he is selected. That’s without the 58 test caps he already has in a rampant Irish test team.

Conan is no stranger to the rugby field as well, notching up 133 appearances for Leinster, as well as 46 tests and four internationals with the British and Irish Lions, making him an asset for any team he plays in.

It is the sort of experience that any coach dreams of going into a top competition playoff game and one which Leinster will be hoping pays off for them away from home at the Loftus Versfeld fortress.


It was something that was acknowledged by Leinster assistant coach Robin McBryde in the media call on Tuesday evening. McBryde said it was a massive boost to have the duo back ahead of what promises to be a tough outing.

“We're coming to the end of the season as well, we've put some unbelievable work in to get him back to where he is currently, so he's training back fully,” McBryde said referring to Ringrose.

"Jack brings a lot of impact off the bench. He started against Connacht and right from the word go he was effective, carrying off the base of the scrum, being dynamic, and he's developed his lineout game as well.

"It's invaluable. You get to this stage of the season and you want as many fit players as you can to select from. Not only for the games on Saturday, but the quality of your training in the week, to prepare your team as well as possible.

"We're under no illusion we're stepping into a very hostile environment, a proud team with a proud record in knockout rugby. To have players of the calibre of those players coming back is invaluable. It gives us a little bit more strength in depth."

The irony of Leinster making sure that their local media are all too aware of the travel disadvantage they have this week in heading to Pretoria is not lost on local rugby folk, especially as Leo Cullen said it was tough to find 45 seats on flights on a Saturday night.

Some of the local Irish media have reported the team have to undergo the ignominy of a ten-hour overnight delay in Dubai to get to Pretoria, something the South African teams do several times during the season without too much complaint.

But there is little complaint when it comes to where the team are staying, or training as they have been gifted world-class facilities to train at Afrikaanse Seuns Hoërskool (Affies) while their gym and hotel is metres from Loftus, a far cry from some of the travel arrangements that local sides have had.

McBryde acknowledged this, saying even the weather had played in their favour and helps them focus on the task at hand.

“We are literally a stone’s throw away. I am looking at the stadium we will be playing in on Saturday across the road here. We’ve got a nice hotel, gym around the corner. Everything is within walking distance, and we’re just getting with it.

“The weather is a bit better than what it was in Dublin as well, which helps, but it is going to be a test-level intensity match on Saturday. Nobody is under any sort of illusion so that grounds you as well. It makes you really focus on the job at hand and take ownership.”

Leinster will name their side for the clash on Friday.