Ruddock eyes starting spot as Clermont beckon for on song Leinster
There must have been times during this injury-hit season when Rhys Ruddock wondered if he would get another chance in such a big game, but he has played himself back into contention for Sunday's Champions Cup semi-final clash against Clermont Auvergne.
While Ruddock watched on from the sidelines, the likes of Dan Leavy, Jack Conan and Josh van der Flier have further enhanced their rapidly growing reputations in the back-row.
In many respects, Ruddock has almost become something of a forgotten man at Leinster, but his performances in recent weeks have put him right back in the frame.
Whether or not he has done enough to force his way into the starting XV remains to be seen, but for him to even be fit and in contention at this stage of the season is a bonus in his eyes.
Two years ago, when Leinster last played at the same stage of the competition, Ruddock missed the Toulon clash through injury. This time around he is determined to make his mark.
"Sure, even the Toulon one I missed out with injury, so probably there haven't been many weeks when I've been fit and in with a shout for such a big game, so it's even more exciting," the flanker said.
"I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Since I've been involved with the club, just that sense of how proud we are of playing in Europe and how excited everyone is for having this opportunity, it's really special.
"So it's a massive challenge, but it's a really exciting place to be and it would definitely mean the world to get over the line this weekend and have a crack at a European final."
Ruddock doesn't need to be reminded of the level of competition he faces, but his physicality may see him having a role to play in Lyon on Sunday.
"Obviously it's such a competitive squad and I don't know what way it'll go," he adds.
"But it's just exciting times for the club, because last year there was disappointment in not doing well in Europe and not being in the knockout stages, watching everyone else.
"That makes it really, really exciting that we're here and we have the opportunity in our own hands. It's a massive challenge and it's going to be difficult, but it's a lot better than not being there at all.
"We have to be really clever in how we approach the game because they don't really have a massive flaw, they're really strong across the board.
"It has to be a pretty complete performance from them or from ourselves to win the game."