Ruddock 'flying' after operation to fix hip injury
HIP operations are something commonly associated with the older generation, so when a host of rugby players in their 20s go under the knife, eyebrows are inevitably raised.
At Leinster, Sean O'Brien, Dave Kearney and Rhys Ruddock are at various stages of recovery from the surgery they underwent at the end of last season. All are power-based players in their early 20s who have built up their bodies in the gym since their teenage years.
There has been speculation that the weights work that young players are putting in has led to an increase in pressure on the lower back and hips, with these operations the result of that workload.
Ruddock returned to action last Saturday as a second-half replacement in Leinster's destruction of the Cardiff Blues at the RDS.
The 21-year-old hopes to make his first start of the season next Sunday and believes that the surgery has left him in better shape than ever to build on the solitary Ireland cap he won in Australia in 2010.
The youngster was not positioning himself as any sort of expert ahead of Leinster training at UCD yesterday, but he said his need for an operation came from a genetic problem with the alignment of his hips.
"I had both hips done," he said. "The operation went well, it took about four-and-a-half months to recover from and get back fully fit and playing again.
"I feel really good about it, I feel like it has given me that bit extra to train and play without any pain and kick on, hopefully.
"I was playing with the issue I had before and I could play on with it. But, the reason for the surgery was to prevent anything from happening down the line. It went well, they are all happy with it.
"To be honest, I think people have become more aware of it. It is a new problem, but I wouldn't know too much about it.
"I'm not qualified to make a judgment, but I've been told that it is partly genetic in my case and that I was doing things that my hip-shape didn't allow me the range of movement to do. I don't think it is related to the gym."
The back-row forward looks to be in better shape than ever, although he was putting it down to the slimline jersey he was sporting yesterday.
He has engaged the support staff in Leinster to give him the best chance of breaking in to one of the most competitive areas of Joe Schmidt's squad and he is hoping to make hay when the internationals are in camp.
"I think it's the smaller jersey that is doing wonders, but I am feeling fit and I have been doing a lot of things outside of rugby with the strength and conditioning staff to keep me in good shape. So I'm happy," he said.
"The lads have been going well, many of them have moved to the international set-up and it is nice to come in and keep the ship going in the right direction.
"It is the first time I've been out for a period like that, so I wouldn't know a lot about it myself, but it definitely helps to get a good to get a run of games, as many minutes as possible, to get your confidence up and get out of the gym."