Ruddock: Sexton the right man to lead us
Given the amount of rugby that was played from when Rhys Ruddock tore his hamstring last December to his return late in the season, it's easy to forget that the Leinster man was arguably the form flanker in the country.
The unfortunate timing of the injury cost Ruddock a Grand Slam medal as well as missing out on a host of big games for Leinster, but the manner in which he fought back from what was initially feared to be a season-ending injury has set him up nicely for the long campaign ahead.
Pre-season has seen the 27-year old adopt a few new habits, including yoga, and a solid summer workload was made all the sweeter when Ruddock was named Leinster vice-captain to Johnny Sexton earlier this week.
With his injury nightmare behind him, Ruddock is now looking forward to a clean bill of health, starting this evening when he skippers Leinster in their first pre-season friendly against Montauban in France.
"Obviously being vice-captain is a massive honour," Ruddock said at the launch of Leinster's new kits in Life Style Sports.
"It just developed from that and Leo (Cullen) spoke to me, told me that his plan was Johnny as captain, myself as vice-captain.
"I was thrilled on both fronts, because it's a massive honour for me personally, but also to see Johnny, who I think is the right man for the job.
"If anyone can take over Isa's (Nacewa) mantle and bring us forward, it's Johnny, with his commitment to the club and his passion for Leinster."
The decision to select Sexton as captain, which was voted for by the players, was resoundingly positive and Ruddock believes that the out-half will thrive in the role.
"I see him as the most passionate about Leinster and the success of the team, success of the club and future of the club," he added.
"That's possibly why you see some of that (the frustration with refs), because ultimately he's the most competitive and driven to win and ultimately wants the best for the team.
"So that, for me, is probably the most important thing.
"Aside from that, the values and the way he lives day to day, is an example to set to any young player.
"He's the consummate professional, in the way he looks after himself and the detail he puts into his game and how he also brings others along with him.
"He's the man to drive us forward."