'Everyone has formed those bonds' - Captain Rhys Ruddock on how Japan tour has united Schmidt's Ireland
The Ireland squad came through without incident from their final captain’s run of the tour, in Tokyo’s Ajinomoto Stadium this morning, in temperatures touching on 30 degrees.
And for captain Rhys Ruddock it didn’t feel like the last session of a long season.
"No I don’t think so, not mentally anyway," he said. "I think everyone’s really enjoying the tour and this group has really grown tighter and tighter.
"This week will hopefully be the most enjoyable experience. Everyone has formed those bonds and it’s a chance to go out and play one last time together."
As captain Ruddock has been one of only seven players to start all three Tests. His leadership, and form, have been first class.
"I’ve absolutely loved it," he said. "As I said, this is a really good close group and a lot of good mates that I would have played with at under 20s and coming through (at Leinster) so it’s been enjoyable from that perspective.
Then also the honour of captaining your country as well, It’s one of the highest honours you could have. That’s been massive. I’ve really enjoyed it."
Yesterday he lead the squad in sending a good luck message to the Irish Lions who kick off two hours after Ruddock leads his side out in Tokyo.
"We’re all obviously very good pals with those guys and have a lot of respect for them having played with them in the province or for Ireland. It was pretty special to see those guys in the squad and even moreso in the Test squad as well.
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"For Pete it’s a massive honour and we all think he’s such a deserving character, such a good leader. He captained me at uner 20 and he’s a pretty special guy in terms of his leadership qualities, so we were delighted to see that decision as well."