Joey Carbery backed to show Ireland the way forward as Fiji test awaits
Rookie fly-half Joey Carbery is already bossing Ireland around the field, according to new captain Rhys Ruddock.
Flanker Ruddock insisted the captain's run should be renamed "Joey's run" in paying tribute to the 22-year-old's impressive authority that flies in the face of his five Test caps.
Carbery will make just his second Test start when Ireland host Fiji in Dublin on Saturday, but Ruddock remains adamant his Leinster club-mate is ready to run the show at international level.
"We've got a massive amount of faith in Joey," said Ruddock. "In training he runs rings around me, he's a quality player, and the leadership he's shown this week.
"It would be tough for anyone to fill Johnny Sexton's shoes but he's doing a great job. They call this training session the captain's run, but this was more Joey's run.
"He can galvanise the players and show what he can get out of the players.
"It's to the credit of Joey and (Kieran) Marmion, the guys who will put the shape on what we do.
"He's just composed and making sure everyone's clear with what we're doing. And that transcends through the group.
"It is tough to lead when you're young, but that's the job of the 10. He's been exposed to training alongside and with some of the best players in that position.
"He's developed into a superb player himself. And that's credit to him with the work he's done and how he's been able to learn so fast."
Head coach Joe Schmidt has made 13 changes from Ireland's record 38-3 victory over South Africa for the visit of Fiji.
The Ireland boss admitted his wholesale revamp would prove a constant "concern" in Dublin on Saturday, but remained intent on seizing a rare chance to challenge the depth of his squad.
Ruddock led Ireland on the summer tour to Japan, with regular skipper Rory Best on British and Irish Lions duty, and revealed the depth of his pride in reprising that role on home soil.
"It's a massive honour to be named captain," said Ruddock. "To captain the side on the summer tour was huge. It's something I'm very proud of and will always look back on fondly.
"And to have the chance to captain Ireland in a sold-out Aviva, to help a few guys through their first cap, I'm excited but nervous as well.
"We'll be made to fight for it as well, because Fiji are a very dangerous side.
"Yes we're showing a lot of changes, but we've had an emphasis on the whole squad trying to pull in the same direction.
"We've got to be able to live at the level the lads produced against South Africa week in week out, even despite this much-changed team.
"That's going to be tough, but that's our job as professionals."