Sunday 20 August 2017

Clarke: Ruddock won't let anyone down

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

IRELAND U-20 coach Allen Clarke believes Rhys Ruddock's call-up to the senior side has vindicated the back-row's decision to turn his back on the land of his father.

Ruddock, son of Wales Grand Slam-winning coach Mike, was born in Ireland to an Irish mother, but played underage for the Welsh having grown up there.

He followed his brother Ciaran into the Irish set-up last year and having played three times for Leinster this season, his progress has been rewarded with a starting berth against the New Zealand Maoris. While his loss has been felt at the Junior World championships in Argentina, Clarke says the youngster will not be letting anyone down in Rotorua.

"He's a talented young man," the eight-times capped hooker said. "He's realistic about where he is, but he's had a break now. That's why he came to Ireland, to develop his rugby and to play for Ireland. I'm sure he won't let anybody down.

"We've lost our skipper and he's been a talisman for the side all season. It's been a privilege to work with him and he's up with the seniors now and that's what it's all about in many respects."

Clarke's charges take on Samoa this afternoon (5.0) in the semi-final of the ninth placed play-off after they disappointingly finished bottom of Group B.

The Samoans, who beat Ireland 9-3 in the final game of last year's tournament, shipped 77 points to New Zealand, but tested Wales and came up just short against Fiji.

Defeat would set Ireland up for a relegation play-off against the loser of the Scotland-Tonga clash. Despite losing a number of players, Clarke believes his side should have enough. "It's a huge test of resolve for us because we have to get up for the ninth spot play-off and as a nation we have to think about leaving a legacy for next year's team and make sure we're at the 2011 Junior World Championships."

Verdict: Ireland

IRELAND -- A Conway (Blackrock/Leinster); A Boyle (UCD/ Leinster), B Macken (Blackrock/Leinster), D McSharry (UCD/ Leinster), S Zebo (Cork Con/Munster); N Reid (UCD/ Leinster), M Heaney (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster); B Cagney (UCC/ Munster), N Annett (Belfast Harlequins/ Ulster), M Moore (Lansdowne/Leinster); B Hayes (Cork Con/ Munster), B Marshall (UCD/Leinster); J Murphy (Blackrock/ Leinster), B O'Hara (UL Bohemian/Munster), P Butler (Shannon/ Munster).

SAMOA -- S Nuie; T Tulolo, M Gandy, K Malielegaoi, T Sufia; P Faapale, J Malo; J Sililoto, A Vaiomanu, F Faatu; J Tyrell (capt), S Luatua; J Aloalii, I Timu Sa, J Tupe. Reps: T Keresoma, G Schuster, S Tuiletufuga, I Iopu, V Simanu, F Tuua, W Mateai.

Irish Independent

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