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VIDEO: Concerns as Irish star keeps it real ahead of Boks series

SPOTLIGHT: Ireland star Garry Ringrose did not underestimate the mammoth challenge that awaits his team when they travel to South Africa to take on the back-to-back World Cup champions.

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Ringrose returned from a three-month absence with a shoulder injury during Leinster’s United Rugby Championship semifinal against the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld.

It was not an easy return for the centre, as his province suffered a defeat to the Bulls in Pretoria.

However eyeing redemption, Ringrose hopes his second outing to the iconic Loftus when Ireland take on South Africa in the first of two Test matches on July 6 will be a much better experience.

“It was my first time down in South Africa, and also the first time at altitude, I didn’t really know what to expect,” Ringrose told the Irish Times when reflecting on his first match at Loftus Verfeld in Leinster colours.

“You feel it in the lungs and the legs maybe a little bit sooner than you would back home. But then it just kind of plateaus as that for the rest of the game, so it’s challenging but once you get over it [it’s fine].

“I think a few guys who knew what to expect having experienced it before felt it was fine. Thankfully we’re out a little bit earlier this time in Johannesburg and we can adapt in some way to it.”

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Andy Farrell’s Ireland squad will stay in Johannesburg in the build-up to the first Test before travelling up to Pretoria.

Leinster stayed in the shadow of the Loftus Versfeld, and he enjoyed playing there and being able to tick off an item on the rugby bucket list.

“Being down there two weeks ago we were staying beside the stadium, it’s an iconic stadium.

“I remember watching Super Rugby and Tri-Nations games. They’re [South Africa] obviously an unbelievably proud nation and back-to-back world champions so what a challenge and opportunity for us.”

The Nienaber factor

The Springboks bring a very specific set of skills and challenges for any opponents.

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They are known for their physicality and Ringrose believes the presence of former South Africa coach Jacques Nienaber in the Leinster ranks has given them a special insight into what Rassie Erasmus wants his side to do.

“They’re unbelievably physical but that’s almost a given, so you just have to be physically ready for the fight at every sort of contact, battle, but [also deal with] the intricacies to how they defend,” The Ireland ace said.

“Even talking to Jacques [Nienaber], it’s funny preparing for them, trying to understand what they’re doing. Speaking to their [former] coach and understanding their philosophy a little bit more, in what they’re trying to do, is kind of cool because you [get to] compare the kind of thinking, the perception, to the reality of it.

“And then, on attack you see last week how dangerous they are, the individuals they have, how cohesive they looked at times in that Welsh game, even with a few new faces. The group seems to be pretty consistent, or [have] a pretty consistent core over the last eight years. You need to be on it, across anything, to try to beat them.”

He added: “The connection between the backfield and the frontline is massive. The decision-making at 13 and for the wings is massive against them, because they’re so good and have backed it up with two World Cups.

“If you get it wrong you suffer the consequences and that mightn’t be the case against other opposition, at club or international, where you can potentially make a mistake and get away with it. The guys they have don’t allow for that. It’s the beauty of the challenge, I guess.”

Source: Irish Times 

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