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Saturday 18 November 2017

Ruddock keeps his focus on playing the blues

Leinster v Cardiff Live TG4, Tonight KO7.35

Rhys Ruddock
Rhys Ruddock
Leo Cullen

The Leinster media event for the PRO14 League tie against Cardiff Blues this evening understandably turned into a session about the interest and intrigue surrounding the two matches on the horizon in South Africa.

If the media can take their eyes off what is right in front of them, what about the Leinster players?

"To be honest, until the questions got asked this week, I hadn't thought once about South Africa.

"I'm sure the lads are the same," said Rhys Ruddock. "But if someone is talking to you about South Africa, you're obviously going to answer their questions.

Focus

"I think our focus has been really good," he stated. "The fact it has been a short week as well, there's been no time to, I suppose, kind of look anywhere else."

Leinster began their current odyssey with an impressively fluent bonus-point win at the Dragons.

Coach Leo Cullen makes four changes for tonight by bringing in scrum-half Luke McGrath and three forwards in hooker James Tracy and loose forwards Ruddock and Jack Conan.

They will all be committed to leaving their mark on proceedings.

The continued presence of Jordan Larmour on the wing is a reflection of the X-Factor fizz the 20-year-old can bring to the table.

Leinster looked well-drilled and robust at Rodney Parade where the priceless value of Isa Nacewa was on show once again.

In contrast, Cardiff really felt the blues in a double scores defeat (20-10) at home to Edinburgh. Their coach Danny Wilson has plumped for half-a-dozen differences.

"They have really grown as a club in the last number of years," argued Ruddock.

"They've been able to string together more consistent performances, which probably says that the whole set-up is really strong, at the moment.

"Their attacking threat is absolutely massive. It has been for a while.

"They are a team that wouldn't be afraid to come and play Leinster in their back yard.

"They will feel they have a genuine chance of bowling us over, even early in the season.

"For us, they are not someone we would take lightly at all.

"They are a quality outfit, just building on their consistency is something they have been doing for the last while.

"That is probably what they will look to do this season as well."

No doubt, Cardiff have been scolded by Wilson ahead of what will be a torrid test of character.

"Leinster in Leinster is always a huge challenge, whichever team you play, but it's one we will be motivated for," said Wilson.

"Last year, we took them to the wire in a game which was won by one point and was arguably a game we could have nicked.

"It's a strong test but we will draw on the confidence from the way we performed there last season and can hopefully produce something similar."

They will have to be at their best to trouble Leinster at the RDS.

Leinster: R Kearney; A Byrne, R O'Loughlin, I Nacewa (capt), J Larmour; R Byrne, L McGrath; C Healy, J Tracy, M Bent, D Toner, S Fardy, R Ruddock, J van der Flier, J Conan.

Cardiff: R Williams; A Cuthbert, G Smith, R Lee-Lo, T James; S Shingler, L Williams; R Gill, M Rees, K Assiratti, S Davies, D Welch, M Cook, J Navidi, J Turnbull.

Verdict: Leinster.

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