Brian O’Driscoll has called on Warren Gatland to include Garry Ringrose in his British and Irish Lions squad despite the centre’s young age.
Gatland names his squad on Wednesday for the tour to New Zealand in June. There is hot competition for the centre berths, with Wales’ Jonathan Davies, England duo Jonathan Joseph and Elliot Daly as well Ireland’s Robbie Henshaw and Scotland’s Alex Dunbar all firmly in contention.
Ringrose showed a maturity beyond his years in the recent Six Nations tournament, as well as in Leinster’s victory over Wasps in the Champions Cup quarter-final, despite being just 22 years of age.
O’Driscoll himself was thrown into the deep end at 21 when he travelled to Australia with the 2001 tour and scored a magical individual try in the opening match at the Gabba.
While O’Driscoll believes Ringrose has the maturity, he also mentioned the fact that he is a team player, who is able to play the situation.
He believes that Ringrose has the ‘flair’ as well as the fight and is able to ‘dig in’ when the going gets tough, as no doubt it will in Kiwi country.
“He’s got to be close, he does,” O’Driscoll told The Telegraph. “The thing about him is that he’s a player for all seasons.
“He’s shown that, and I think that’s what differentiates him from other centres that look similar in the way they play the game, without naming names – I think it’s pretty obvious who I’m talking about.
“I think Garry Ringrose is someone I’d like in the trenches as much as I’d like on the hard ground of Loftus Versfeld.
“No matter who the opposition or what the conditions are, He’s there for the fight. He’s got fight in him.
“I just don’t know whether Warren Gatland is a big enough fan of him right now to select him, but he would be a really good addition to the Lions squad in my opinion.
“He’s a real flair to his game as well. Garry’s natural ability is very evident but he is very diligent.
“In terms of playing within a structure or a gameplan of a team. He’s a very, very good team player.
“We’ve got a phrase in Ireland – a ‘me feiner’, who is someone who only thinks about themselves. He is the antithesis of that.
“He’ll impress when the going is fast and he’ll also be there when you need people to dig in.”
Meanwhile, O’Driscoll has labelled Ireland’s 40-29 victory over the All Blacks in November as a prototype as to how they should approach the coming series.
“Certainly from a defensive point of view it gave us a template in terms of squeezing them and shutting down space. Any side in the world likes a team to stand off and allow them time and space to create their magic,” he said.
“That day, yes there were some unforced errors you don’t usually associate with New Zealand, but I think Ireland generated a lot of pressure and forced them into those types of errors. What is clear is that you are going to have to score tries against New Zealand. They will score a few themselves, so you have to get at least two.
“You have to limit the amount of opportunities they create – because their completion rate on those opportunities is very high. You have to stop them at source, bringing down the amount of opportunities they get from seven or eight to four or five. Then they might score two or three of them, and you’ll have to score a few yourself.”