Rhys Ruddock in line to lead Ireland against Italy
Leinster flanker is part of the 26-strong squad that Joe Schmidt has picked for Chicago Test
Rhys Ruddock is set to captain Ireland on Saturday when Joe Schmidt's side begin their November series against Italy at Solider Field.
A 26-man squad departed Dublin for Chicago yesterday and, as expected, Schmidt has opted for a mix of senior players as well as a less-experienced bunch, who the Ireland coach will be keen to have a good look at this week.
The majority of the remaining 16 players from the 42-man squad, including the likes of captain Rory Best, Johnny Sexton and Peter O'Mahony, will be put through their paces at Carton House this week in preparation for next week's clash against Argentina, which Ireland will be at full-strength for.
Sammy Arnold misses out on making his international debut in Chicago. The Munster centre was named in the larger squad for this month's games, but he was taken off with a head injury last weekend.
Arnold has, however, made the trip to South Africa with Munster, as has tighthead prop John Ryan.
Neither O'Mahony nor Rob Kearney were expected to travel to America this week, and they will both be monitored after suffering shoulder injuries whilst playing for their provinces.
With Best and both of his vice-captains (Sexton and O'Mahony), staying in Ireland, Ruddock is likely to lead his country again. The Leinster flanker skippered Ireland on their tour to America and Japan last summer and came in for praise from Schmidt.
Ruddock has since been appointed vice-captain at Leinster and has the most captaincy experience at international level out of anyone in the touring squad.
Leinster out-half Ross Byrne and versatile Ulster back Will Addison are in line to make their Ireland debuts.
IRELAND SQUAD - Forwards: F Bealham, T Beirne, J Conan, S Cronin, T Furlong, D Kilcoyne, J McGrath, J Murphy, A Porter, Q Roux, R Ruddock, James Ryan, N Scannell, D Toner, J van der Flier. Backs: W Addison, B Aki, R Byrne, J Carbery, A Conway, J Cooney, J Larmour, L McGrath, G Ringrose, J Stockdale, D Sweetnam.