Rhys Ruddock hails 'incredible' Joe Schmidt influence ahead of coach's big decision
Ireland skipper Rhys Ruddock has hailed the influence of Joe Schmidt as the coach nears a decision on his future beyond next year's World Cup.
After leading a much-changed team on their Captain's Run at the Aviva Stadium ahead of tomorrow's meeting with the US Eagles, the Leinster flanker faced a series of questions about a coach he has worked under for nine years at the province and with the national team.
Although they'll play in front of a sell-out crowd tomorrow, the coach's call on whether to stay or go is dominating the discussions around the Irish rugby team right now with fears growing that he will leave his post after Japan.
Ruddock was asked about his impact since arriving in ireland to coach Leinster in 2010.
"I think probably from an outsider's point of view, what you see, it's pretty black and white, his impact, it's there for everyone to see," he said.
"There are some intangibles he adds within the group, but I don't know if I can give those away!
"It's obvious he's an incredible coach, and he's had an incredible impact on the environment as well, in Leinster, I was able to experience that first-hand, and now with Ireland as well.
"But the impact he has on the group, and the belief, over the long term that has grown and grown. We're very lucky we've got him and the other coaches in the set-up doing such a great job.
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"When I was younger some of it I was not able to see what he was trying to teach.
"There's been loads of things in terms of on-field detail.
"His rugby knowledge is second-to-none.
"Some of it goes over my head!
"He gave me the opportunity to captain Leinster when I was just 21, and he's helped me grow as a leader from there.
"He's really helped me learn as a player and a leader."
Ruddock captained the side in their opening November win over Italy, but missed out on selection against Argentina and New Zealand.
And, while he admits that it wasn't easy to watch those victories, he is delighted to lead the side at the Aviva Stadium.
"Yeah it is tough. But the only carrot is that you get to captain the side at home," he said.
"And playing in front of the Aviva at home in front of a full crowd, with the place rocking, that's incredible.
"So the fact that there's this game at the ned na dhte chance to finish on a high makes that a bit easier.
"Selection is tough in general, but that's part of rugby, everyone goes through it, but it makes everyone hungrier and that's why we've got such healthy competition.
"Not for us as a playing group. We live in such a bubble it really is week to week.
"All we've been thinking about is the USA, and the threats they have.
"We're very much focused on the Test match we have to play.
"I'm sure there are things that it will lead to in terms of pecking order and selection, it's a great opportunity for everyone.
"But we only have a week to prepare, so the most important thing is that we get all the detail, our plays right, and then the mindset to go out and put our best foot forward."