Luke Fitzgerald has hit out at Rhys Ruddock’s absence from the Ireland Six Nations squad, calling it an ‘astonishing’ omission.
New head coach Andy Farrell named six back rows in his first squad, but the in-form Ruddock was a surprise name missing from the list.
Ruddock’s Leinster team-mates Caelan Doris, Josh van der Flier and Max Deegan all made the cut, while Munster trio CJ Stander, Peter O’Mahony and Jack O’Donoghue were also selected.
It was tough on Ruddock, who was one of the few Ireland players who performed well at the World Cup in Japan, and he had seemed poised for a Six Nations role after continuing that form into the club season with Leinster.
Speaking on The Left Wing, Independent.ie’s rugby podcast, Luke Fitzgerald gave a blunt view of Farrell’s decision to leave Ruddock out of his Six Nations plans.
“I thought it was an amazing omission,” Fitzgerald said.
“I thought it was a stinker. I thought it was a complete cop-out. He is the easy guy to drop.
“He was one of our only good players out at the World Cup. He has been excellent for Leinster for a very long period of time and even though he has had a few injuries and might not always be picked because Leinster rotate him, he is always picked for the big games when he is fit.
“He is a captain, so he is a leader in there as well. I just don’t get.”
Fitzgerald added that he thinks Farrell is looking for something different in his back row to what Ruddock provides.
“People see the game differently,” Fitzgerald said.
“I find that one really hard to understand but look, it shows you that people can focus in on small parts of someone’s game and that is obviously what has cost him. It baffles me but they are obviously looking at something and saying that other players do that better but I find it astonishing.”
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