Monday 29 May 2017

Ruddock to face Maori

Leinster's Rhys Ruddock looks set to start against the New Zealand Maori on Friday having been called in to the Irish squad by Declan Kidney.
Leinster's Rhys Ruddock looks set to start against the New Zealand Maori on Friday having been called in to the Irish squad by Declan Kidney.

RHYS RUDDOCK is ready to start for Ireland against the New Zealand Maori on Friday night having just jetted in from the U-20 World Cup in Argentina, where he was captaining the Irish effort.

The 19-year-old joined the senior squad in Rotorua yesterday, having received a call-up due to Jamie Heaslip's five-week suspension and John Muldoon's broken wrist in Saturday's 66-28 defeat to the All Blacks in New Plymouth.

Jonathan Sexton and Peter Stringer could form the half-back combination, with Dan Tuohy and Ed O'Donoghue in line to resume their Ulster second-row partnership. Mick O'Driscoll is receiving treatment for the back spasm that forced his early withdrawal on Saturday.

The front-row is expected to feature props Marcus Horan and Tom Court, with John Fogarty -- who won his first Irish cap off the bench in New Plymouth -- at hooker. No 8 Chris Henry and open-side Niall Ronan could complete the back-row alongside Ruddock, with Gavin Duffy and Paddy Wallace in the centre and a back three of Geordan Murphy, Shane Horgan and Johne Murphy.

The Maori also name their team today and have a host of All Blacks to choose from -- including centre Luke McAlister, second-row Isaac Ross, hooker Corey Flynn and open-side Liam Messam. Friday's match is part of the Maori centenary celebrations, which began with a 37-31 win over the New Zealand Barbarians and also feature a match against England.

The Irish players who started Saturday's Test did not train yesterday, while the remainder, including Ruddock, had a run-out at Rotorua's International Stadium, which will host Friday's showdown.

IRELAND (possible) -- G Murphy; S Horgan, G Duffy, P Wallace, J Murphy; J Sexton, P Stringer; M Horan, J Fogarty, T Court; E O'Donoghue, D Tuohy; R Ruddock, N Ronan, C Henry.

Irish Independent

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