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Dublin: 10°C Friday 7 May 2021

Ruddock and Leinster eager to leave Ulster in their Pro12 dust

The Blues’ flanker and his side are preparing for their biggest league game of the season on Saturday.

Rhys Roddock is hoping to start against Ulster.
Rhys Roddock is hoping to start against Ulster.
Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

RHYS RUDDOCK IS well-thought of in Leinster and Irish rugby circles. He is a player of which great deeds are expected.

He made his debut for the Blues less than a month after his 19th birthday, in 2009, and made his Ireland debut against Australia six months later.

Almost three years have past since that international outing in Brisbane, however, and a second cap has not arrived.

The back-row enjoyed his most productive season with Leinster last year but Ulster’s Iain Henderson and Peter O’Mahony have jumped the international queue.

O’Mahony and Munster await at Thomond Park next month but Henderson and Ulster are up next, this Saturday, at the RDS.

Ruddock has taken a full part in Leinster training this week and tells he is eager to start this weekend and put himself ‘in contention for the big games at the end of the season’.

The Ian Madigan-inspired win over Glasgow Warriors moved Joe Schmidt’s men to the top of the Pro12 table for the first time this season. Looking ahead to the Ulster game, Ruddock said:

Last week, against Glasgow, was much the same – two teams neck and neck at the top of the table – this week will be no different.

Ulster coming off the back of a loss, I’m sure they will be eager to regain it. Likewise with us, we’re on a run of form. After taking weeks and months to get there, the motivation is to stay on top.”

“It’s easy to find motivation,” Ruddock added. “If we lose, it is likely that we will slip off the top spot. There’s no room for error there.

“In terms of the league, I would would say that this game and last week’s are the biggest games of the year.”

Ravenhill humbling

On 21 December, Ulster were propelled, by Andrew Trimble and Tom Court, towards a 27-19 win over Leinster. Ruddock featured off the bench but the cause was almost lost when he replaced Kevin McLaughlin.

Leinster have not lost a match, in the Pro12 and Europe, since.

Trimble delivers a hammer blow to Leinster at Ravenhill. (©INPHO/Presseye/Darren Kidd)

“This season we’ve been looking at Ulster,” said Ruddock, “who were well clear of us for most of it. They beat us well away from home around Christmas. Since that, it was nice to keep performing, getting results and climbing above them.”

Looking ahead to his side’s Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final with Wasps, Ruddock said:

“The intensity that these interpros bring, I couldn’t think of a better game to lead us into the cup.

“Playing those physical games is one of the best ways to prepare you for the intensity of European rugby.”

Additional reporting by Sean Farrell.

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