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01st Mar 2024

Garry Ringrose on the biggest diet and performance changes that improved his game

Patrick McCarry

Garry Ringrose

“It’s easy to focus on the number on the weighing scales, and get caught up on that.”

Back in 2016, as he was heading into his second full season as a professional, with Leinster, we spoke with Garry Ringrose at a jersey launch out at Tallaght Stadium.

For his first season with the Leinster senior squad, Ringrose started the season at 89 kilos (14-stome). One year on and he was at 92 kilos but was already starting to fill out. “I know in my head where I want to get to,” he told us, “without compromising how I enjoy playing rugby. It’s a slow process but I’m not in any hurry.”

Now aged 29 and very much a senior member of the Leinster and Ireland set-ups, Ringrose goes around at 95 kilos (just shy of 15-stone). We caught up with Ringrose, this week, as he gave some insights into his training and dietary goals. The National Dairy Council ambassador told us about some lessons he had picked up along the way, to improve his fitness and performance levels.

“The big one for me, initially, was probably eating enough and learning more about fuelling properly, and there probably would have been an emphasis on recovery. When I come home after a day of training, probably the first thing I do is have dinner with a pint of milk. The other thing is actually fuelling for training sessions so you can be at the optimum level. Definitely, in the last two or three years, I started to understand that more, in terms of just eating enough.

“Even in pre-season, you usually get the body composition test and you get re-tested at the end of that [pre-season period], and you want to be in a better position. In the past, you might have have adjusted your diet to be actually under-fuelled. That’s counter-productive, though, as you’re not getting the most out of those sessions to, ultimately, give you the best outcome in those off-field tests. That’s probably the biggest learning, or evolution, that I’ve noticed in the last few years.It plays a huge part in robustness for me, too. I know I’m injured now, but those changes, in recent seasons, have allowed me to go decent stretches without picking up knocks. I feel some injuries, definitely soft-tissue ones, are more within my control and that I’m helping there by refuelling properly and having a healthy, balanced diet.”

Garry Ringrose
Garry Ringrose pictured playing against Plymouth in 2014 and (right) at the 2023 World Cup. (Credit: Sportsfile)

Garry Ringrose on backline versatility

Garry Ringrose played 11 and 14 in four of his first fives games with the Leinster senior side, before moving into his preferred position at outside centre.

There was some talk, back in January after the injuries to Mack Hansen and Jimmy O’Brien, of using Ringrose as a winger and going with Bundee Aki and Robbie Henshaw as centres. Asked if he would ever be open for a move onto the wings, and if his more robust frame would be suited to it, Ringrose said, “I try not to overthink it too much.

“It would be easy to focus on the number on the weighing scales, then get too caught up on that. There is a little bit of being robust and physical enough to perform at centre and then be fast, agile and aerobically fit enough to be able to perform, out a bit wider. There is overlap from both, and you see wingers that could play in the centre and vice versa, so, they’re not a million miles apart from each other. It’s a minor consideration, but it’s the best of both worlds.

“Anywhere I can try and get on the pitch and help the team in some way, I’m all for it. I’d be open minded to try my hand at anything, whether it’s at 13, on the wing. I’ve covered 12, the odd time, and enjoyed it. It’s a different challenge. We try, as a group, to align – the back three has to understand what the centres are doing and, say, from defensive perspective the centres understand what the back three are trying to achieve. We’re always trying to understand each other’s roles. Then it helps when it comes to actually having to play there, or fill in for one of the lads.”

Ringrose took a step closer to coming back from his January shoulder injury when he stepped out, on Thursday, at Aviva Stadium for Ireland’s open training session. Up next, for Ireland, is a trip to Twickenham to take on an English side smarting from the Calcutta Cup loss to Scotland.

Asked what it takes to get a winning result in Twickenham, the Leinster centre commented, “You kind of need everything to go relatively well in terms of different aspects of the game. The set piece has to deliver to a certain level, the scrum and line-out, you have to be disciplined to deny them access into your 22.

“When you enter their 22, it’s stating the obvious but you’ve got to come away with three or five points, especially now with how they defend you have to be really good with the ball because they’ll put us under pressure no doubt. So coughing up possession or giving turnovers will be detrimental to us, but probably they fell victim to that a little bit against Scotland with some of them unforced errors but their defence can cause that in teams.

“It’s a bit of everything. The pressure at the breakdown, their intensity, they make you work for everything, and it will kill our attack if we over commit as well, so the breakdown will be huge.

“The kicking battle as well with George Ford, we’ve seen him rip teams apart with his kicking ability so it’s getting the backfield right to deny them access is massive as well. So, like any game, it’s a bit of everything but over in Twickenham they don’t give up much so you just need to be unbelievably clinical.

Garry Ringrose
Garry Ringrose of Ireland runs out to make his 50th Test appearance, in 2023. (Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile)

Garry Ringrose on Ireland’s latest Six Nations campaign

After missing the opening three rounds of the 2024 Six Nations, as he comes back from a shoulder injury, Garry Ringrose is keen to get back for the England and Scotland games.

Asked if he is a ‘good or bad spectator’, he replies, “The more injuries I’ve gone through, the better I’ve got at watching and understanding I can’t actually influence anything at all. But I’m probably balancing turning back into a supporter and balancing that with hoping the lads go well and try and understand what they’re doing and trying to figure it out while watching from a different perspective.”

Ireland are two wins away from being the first team in Six Nations history to go back-to-back on Grand Slam wins. Given how well Ireland rolled through their opening matches – 115 points scored, three wins, maximum points collected – there is open chat among supporters here about doing the deed.

“Yeah,” Ringrose muses, “with Twickenham as well, you have to be at your best to go there and win there. We’re well aware of that challenge and then also England, whether it’s at home or away, especially the transition they’ve gone through or going through, they are an unbelievably tough team to play against, and are piecing things together and looking better. They’ll be disappointed with the Scotland game but there is so much in their game that will be a huge threat and then also a defence to play against, how they are playing now, is different gravy altogether to what we’ve experienced in the last two years you know. Yeah, an exciting challenge ahead. 

Admitting he is delving into cliche territory, Ringrose insists that all the focus will be on the England game, on March 9. “Winning games in the Six Nations is so competitive so it’s just focusing on the next day and that was obvious with France how big a challenge that was going to be and how tough a challenge that was going to be and the lads fronted up.

“Italy, again shown by drawing with France with their quality, we have a huge amount of respect for the Italians, how they attack, so to hold them to zero was unbelievable because you when analyse their threats, they have treats and structures and attacking play which is better at a team. And then Wales you have, when you compare them to the team from 12 months ago, there were only a handful [of the same players] there and they’re at a different stage. You could see how hard they were working for each other the problems they caused to our lads at times. So each game, what I’m trying to say, you have to be all hands on deck. There is no room for… you have to look at the game in front of you. And now we’ve England who are defending differently to how we would have faced in the past and then attacking wise, when they put it together, they are unbelievably dangerous. Looking beyond them would be a detriment to ourselves.” 

Ringrose will stay with the Ireland camp rather than going back to get minutes with Leinster. It makes his task harder – getting back into the starting XV – but there is a chance he could feature in that match-day squad at Twickenham.

Garry Ringrose
The National Dairy Council is delighted to continue working with Garry Ringrose as an ambassador in 2024. Like all athletes, Garry knows the important role that diet and nutrition plays in fuelling the body for success in training and on the pitch! Garry Said, “I am delighted to be working with NDC as an ambassador and to promote the significant benefits of Milk – “Nature’s sports drink”.

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