Tuesday 19 September 2017

Captain Ruddock relishing leadership role ahead of US test

8 June 2017; Ireland's Rhys Ruddock during squad training at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey, USA. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
8 June 2017; Ireland's Rhys Ruddock during squad training at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey, USA. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Brendan Fanning

Brendan Fanning

Ireland got a taste of conditions for tomorrow’s test against the US Eagles when they had their captain’s run at New Jersey’s Red Bull Arena today. In brilliant sunshine and 27 degrees captain Rhys Ruddock counted them all out and counted them back in again, safely.

"That was our first chance to get out on the turf there and see what it was like," he says.

"It’s brought the excitement up to another level now and everyone’s looking forward to tomorrow.

"It’s pretty warm: lovely conditions and the pitch is really nice. We’ve had a mixed bag with the weather over the last few days but hopefully we’ll get nice conditions like this tomorrow."

As far as his captaincy goes, he says it’s been standard procedure.

"First and foremost my focus has been delivering on the actions: how you train and how you recover and all that kind of stuff. I suppose you set an example there, but if there’s ever a time when the more experienced guys like myself or guys who’ve been in the environment a little bit more can offer advice or bring people along with you then that’s been done. There are lots of leaders in the group who have done that job throughout the last two weeks."

For Ireland – who are -22 on the handicap – their preparation has been the same as if they were playing the All Blacks. The Eagles most capped player is Irishman John Quill, on 20, so while Ireland are light on experience so are their opponents.

"The week has had a really familiar feel," Ruddock says.

"For the guys who’ve been involved in the environment nothing’s changed. No matter where we’re playing or who we’re playing against, the fact that we’re in a different country, our week has looked pretty much the same despite the travel implications. We’ve had a really good week of training.

"I suppose the intensity had to be high to get used to the conditions and make sure that we know what to expect. We’ve done that now, we know what it’s going to be like playing in these conditions, and we know the intensity they’re going to bring. I suppose it’s about us bringing our own standards."

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