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Rhys: winning in Thomond is special

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CHALLENGE: Rhys Ruddock of Leinster. Photo: SPORTSFILE

CHALLENGE: Rhys Ruddock of Leinster. Photo: SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

CHALLENGE: Rhys Ruddock of Leinster. Photo: SPORTSFILE

There's no place like home at this time of the year.

There's no place better to win away from home than at Thomond Park, any time of the year.

Rhys Ruddock took his time over the answer when asked to choose between beating Munster at The RDS or in Limerick ahead of travelling for Saturday evening (KO5.15, eir Sport).

"Well, they are different experiences," he said.

"It's special having your home fans and everyone cheering you on and everything like that.

"But there is something special about going away from home."

The special blend of passion and physicality has often been too much for Leinster to withstand.

"The intensity they bring to the occasion and their fans, it's a very different experience,'' he continued. "I think it's one that you have to relish as well, a tough task, but enjoyable but for very different reasons."

When pressed for a preference, he took the view of the natural competitor.

Whatever is harder to do is usually better to achieve.

"I think winning away from home is extra special, especially playing a team like that," said Ruddock, after quite a pause for thought.

"There's a huge heritage and history of being successful, especially when they play down there, so yeah, to get a win there is extra special."

Leinster are fresh from a pre-Christmas miracle against Connacht in Ballsbridge. The frontline Ireland internationals may well have taken more from it than those who turned the tables.

Coach Leo Cullen's decision to add Scott Fardy, Dan Leavy and Ruddock to a young bunch was important.

It took real mental fortitude to come through a test of character.

'It's definitely a positive in that sense," said Ruddock.

"We take huge positives from the fact that we dug in."

The Blues have perfected the champion art of winning when they have no right to.

Deserving has got nothing to do with it.

"I think the learnings will be more important now, in terms of we knew exactly what they were going to try and do.

"We knew they'd take us on with Bundee Aki and Tom Farrell," said the loose forward. "Then, we knew they had that ability to go back on the short side and take us on at the ruck. But we had prepped for that."

And still, it all came back to the same thing it will take to dismantle Munster.

"We need to learn that teams are going to try and physically impose themselves on us over these next couple of weeks.

"Let's make sure we stick to the plan and get the job there really because we gave Connacht a lot of momentum and really hurt ourselves.

"We can probably count ourselves lucky," he said.

"As much as we dug in, we probably got away with one, you know."

They won't get away with it in Limerick.