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21st Mar 2017

WATCH: Two moments from Saturday night should clinch Garry Ringrose a Lions jersey

This is some level of commitment

Patrick McCarry

Everyone who watched Ireland’s victory over England at the weekend will fondly recall Garry Ringrose bursting out of the defensive line to make a hit on Jonathan Joseph.

Ireland were seven points up but under the pump. England’s bench was making a difference and Ireland were struggling to sustain any sort of offensive pressure.

Following a good break up the left, Ringrose backed himself to make the defensive play and sprung out on Joseph, sprinting towards his opposite number before Danny Care had even released his pass. The hit forced a poor pass and Iain Henderson followed up by hounding Maro Itoje and forcing the turnover.

That was some moment but it wasn’t the moment that should see Ringrose make the Lions tour to New Zealand.

That moment arrived 80:16 into a fiercely contested Six Nations clash and it proved Ringrose has the gas, courage and strength to make a difference this summer.

The clock had just turned red and England were forced to run the ball out of their own 22. Tackles were not going to end this game – not against the Six Nations champions and a team chasing 19 wins in a row. Ireland needed to drive the English back; force them into errors.

As play flipped from left to right, Ringrose thundered into Elliot Daly as he tried to force a mistake. Daly got his pass away but Ringrose wasn’t finished. Three seconds after his first hit he launched himself and Anthony Watson and dragged him to ground.

But he wasn’t finished there.

With Simon Zebo and Robbie Henshaw trying for the counter-ruck, Ringrose slipped back out and took his place in the line.

Went wanted to shoot for Itoje next – he was primed – but Henshaw pointed him to the blindside as prop John Ryan was covering on his own.

80+ minutes into one of the most intense games of the year, so far, and Ringrose was still pressing the line and heaving into Englishmen. It is exactly what will be required if the Lions are to push the world champion All Blacks to the brink.

His attacking prowess are not in doubt but, until this championship, there were question marks over his defence. Ringrose was left badly exposed on a three-on-one for Scotland’s first try in the opening game but he has given nothing away since.

He was also in exceptional form at inside centre in the Dublin games against the All Blacks and Australia.

Henshaw looks certain to travel to New Zealand as he can cover midfield and fullback. Warren Gatland may be tempted to play Henshaw at 13 while Jonathan Davies will be hoping for the nod of his national team manager [at Wales].

Ringrose should travel, though.

Legendary Lions coach Ian McGeechan believes Ringrose was the Six Nations’ stand-out 13, ahead of Joseph, Davies and Gael Fickou et al. Who are we to argue with ‘Geech’?

Having been singled out for praise by Steve Hansen last November, the Kiwis would be delighted to see a touring squad that does not feature the 22-year-old.

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