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'They call today the captain's run, it was more Joey's run' -- Ruddock

“I’m just head down and push,” says lead-by-example skipper Rhys Ruddock.

IRELAND CAPTAIN FOR the week Rhys Ruddock didn’t look the slightest bit put out when praising the leading role Joey Carbery took during today’s captain’s run at the Aviva Stadium.

The 22-year-old will start his first match of the season as out-half against Fiji tomorrow (kick-off 17.30) but his growing ability to lead and steer a team from number 10 has been a consistent message from coaches through this week.

Joey Carbery Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“Even today, it’s called the captain’s run, but I think it was more the Joey run,” said Ruddock after coming in from the training run and on-field team photo.

“He led things today and I think that speaks volumes of him as a young player to be able to galvanise the group and make sure everyone stays on task and that we get out of it what we need to.

It was really sharp today and more to the credit of Joey and Marms, the guys were calling the shots in terms of the plays and putting a structure on the game. As opposed to me, I’m just head down and push.”

With a raft of changes made to Joe Schmidt’s team in this mid-series Test, the head coach will keep a keen eye for leaders to emerge within the system and the captain is certainly confident that Carbery can step into the big shoes of Jonathan Sexton and take command of what will be just a second international start as Ireland’s out-half.

Chris Farrell, Andrew Conway, Luke McGrath, Jack Conan, Andrew Porter, Joey Carbery, Rhys Ruddock, CJ Stander, Tadhg Furlong and Dave Kearney Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“We’ve got a massive amount of faith in him. I’ve obviously a lot of experience training with him and against him, he runs rings around me.

“He’s a quality player, and the leadership he’s shown this week – it’s tough to fill Johnny’s shoes when you’ve had very little time with this group of players. But he’s done an excellent job.

“He’s just composed and making sure everyone’s clear before we go through with something. That translates to everyone else. if you’re composed and confident in what you say transcends through the group.

Joey Carbery Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“I presume that’s very tough, but 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 and he’s developed into a superb player himself.

“That’s his job and credit to him with the work he’s done and learned fast.

“We’re all excited about the opportunities we have to go out there tomorrow.”

Rhys Ruddock Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Ruddock will captain Ireland for the fourth time tomorrow having led the squad on the summer tour to the US and Japan. For some, leading the team out on home turf in a sold-out Aviva Stadium might bring more pressure. But under Schmidt, the reduced complications of starting help to actually ease the workload for Ruddock.

“Sometimes coming off the bench can be a bit harder, especially as a back row you’re kind of covering all three positions. Sometimes it’s easier to just have the one position you know you’re on from the start and know what your job is and just concentrate on that.

“The captaincy adds another dimension, but I’ve got to do my own job, focus on the performance and lead by example.”

The42 has just published its first book, Behind The Lines, a collection of some of the year’s best sports stories. Pick up your copy in Eason’s, or order it here today (€10):

Schmidt excited to see how the depth chart holds up in ‘acid test’ against Fiji

Carbery happy to take charge in backline, even when it means over-ruling Sexton

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