Saturday 21 October 2017

Ruddock delighted with 'senior' input to U-20 side

Mike Ruddock
Mike Ruddock
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Mike Ruddock has revealed that Ireland's defence coach Les Kiss has been working with his U-20 side ahead of their World Cup campaign in New Zealand next month.

As well as Kiss, Joe Schmidt and newly appointed scrum coach Greg Feek are also expected to take training sessions with the squad as they gear up for a tough group.

Ireland begin Pool B with a game against France in Auckland on June 2, before a meeting with Ruddock's native Wales while they finish the pool against Fiji.

Ireland saw off Scotland in a warm- up (30-17) last weekend and despite Ruddock being largely pleased with what he saw, he admitted that having the Ireland senior coaches involved would be a huge boost for the team.

"We've had Les Kiss come in and he's done a session with the boys which was really fantastic. We're hoping before we go that Joe (Schmidt) is going to do a session with the lads and Greg Feek is looking at making time to do some scrummaging work with us," Ruddock said.

"It's fantastic to see their interest in getting involved. Joe has been keen to do a line with us from day one. And of course we've been keen to invite him in as well.

"I just had to pick the phone up to Les and ask him would he mind coming in to do some individual tackle technique work with the boys and straight away he was asking if he could be there tomorrow.

"Having that kind of support is fantastic for us and we really value it. It's great for the players because they're rubbing shoulders with the national coaches and the coaches are getting to see them early," he added.

Ruddock, who is in his fourth year in charge of the U-20 side, maintains that continuity between his rising stars and the senior team is crucial for Irish rugby.

"A lot of the guys who come in and play U-20s rugby will play international rugby within a couple of years," he said. "It's trying to build the skill quality of the team, which is in conjunction with the work that goes on in the academies and the clubs as well.

"We're all part of that – trying to develop the players' skill levels, conditioning and their ability to play at a high level. But we're also trying to develop a winning mindset. Some guys will really kick on after this and some guys won't.

"There's a mixture of all those different elements, but ultimately when you get to a tournament, there's only one thing you're thinking about and that's trying to win."

Irish Independent

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