Rhys Ruddock is a surprise absence from a matchday squad that has left Irish fans feeling buoyant. Andy Farrell’s side take on Wales at the Principality Stadium on Sunday in the opening round of the Guinness Six Nations, and they will arrive in Cardiff with a settled squad.
There is a perfect blend of experience in the starting XV, and the options from the bench, which includes Tadhg Furlong and Iain Henderson, have pleased plenty online.
The only shock is the fact that Ruddock has failed to make the squad.
The Leinster back row is arguably the form player in the Guinness PRO14 this season, having had man of the match awards thrown at him like confetti on top of being named Leinster’s player of the month three times in a row.
The injury to his teammate Caelan Doris earlier this week looked like it had paved the way for the 30-year-old to make the matchday squad, but Farrell has opted to start with Josh van der Flier alongside the established duo of Peter O’Mahony and CJ Stander. The back row option on the bench is Munster’s Will Connors.
It has been mentioned online that Connors is the more youthful option at the age of 24, and with only five caps this is the exposure to Test rugby he needs. But based on form alone, Ruddock’s omission has flummoxed many Irish fans.
The versatility the 26-cap forward is yet another reason why he seemed a popular choice as he can cover the entire back row and even the second row if needed.
But most international squads seem to have a form player that cannot curry favour with the coaches or has a face that does not fit. Ruddock is yet to be capped in the Farrell tenure, and he has to wait at least another week.
We have to back the decisions of management. But, I really don't understand exclusion of Rhys Ruddock- the on form player in Europe's strongest club side. He also covers all backrow positions. What more do you want? #teamofus #WALvIRE https://t.co/fJa4qm5vfR
— Nick Lee (@NickLee268) February 5, 2021
Not a whole lot of beef or forward carrying options.
Rhys Ruddock has now overtaken John Cooney in the face-doesn't-fit stakes. Would be astonished if he is not involved against England. https://t.co/1sjKrJCOTP
— Prof Curate's Egg ? PhD (@curates_egg) February 5, 2021
I must be the only one who doesn’t rate Connors. Thought Ruddock deserved a shot at least from the bench
— Chris McWilliams (@chrsmcwllms) February 5, 2021
Prefer Ruddock on the bench, can cover 6, 8 and has packed down in the row too
— Bill Carr (@billcarr_10) February 5, 2021
How is Ruddock not on the bench MOTM for Leinster most games. Would add some beef to that pack too.
— Ralph (@ralphy2020) February 5, 2021
Jesus what has Rhys Ruddock got to do to get a game for @IrishRugby ? Unreal that VDF starts this game and Conners on the bench ????
— Ronan Mythen (@RonanMythen) February 5, 2021
Not a Leinster fan by any means but what does Rhys Ruddock have to do to get in the 23?
Nice looking lineup otherwise. Ireland by 4.ADVERTISEMENT
— Feargal (@Feargal_) February 5, 2021
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