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Rhys Ruddock thinks Ireland can thrive in second Test against South Africa

Published 15/06/2016

Ireland flanker Rhys Ruddock is expecting a Springbok backlash in Saturday's second Test
Ireland flanker Rhys Ruddock is expecting a Springbok backlash in Saturday's second Test

Ireland flanker Rhys Ruddock is expecting a Springbok backlash in Saturday's second Test in Johannesburg - but believes his side will thrive.

South Africa are expected to give an improved performance at Ellis Park after losing to a 14-man Irish side last weekend.

However, Ruddock, who is the favourite to come into the team as a replacement for suspended Munster captain CJ Stander, thinks there is plenty of growth in Ireland's game ahead of game two.

He said: "The first thing we did when when we got to Joburg was to review the game and although there were a lot of positives, there were also a lot of things to work on.

"That was the key message going into the start of the week - that there's still another sort of 10 or 15 per cent that we can develop early in this week into a good performance on the weekend.

"The other message is that we know we're at our best when we're a little bit fearful of what the team we're going to be facing is about and what they're capable of, and that's why it's no different this week.

"We know that South Africa are probably better than they were last week and we know they're a difficult team to beat.

"So all the focus is going to be on preparing ourselves to the best of our ability, having a clear plan going into the game and being able to execute under the pressure that we're going to feel on Saturday.

"In defence, obviously we were put under a lot of pressure. We were down to 14 or 13 men for large periods of that game and I think the way the guys dug in in terms of working hard for one another was one of the main positives.

"But that meant that things didn't always go to plan and we kind of had to improvise a little bit.

"With 15 men on the field hopefully we can really stick to our plan and be even more effective in defence."

South Africa coach Allister Coetzee has called on his side to simplify their game plan for this week's game, meaning the Irish pack are in for a busy day.

"We are expecting South Africa to lift their level of physicality," Ruddock said.

"We know that if we can improve that small margin, maybe with 15 on the field and being able to stick to our systems defensively, we can hopefully cope with that physicality.

"Our job is to be able to deal with whatever they throw at us. Being able to improve our systems defensively and perhaps being able to hold onto the ball a little bit better at times, things like that, in order to be able to score points when we put them under pressure.

"So there are areas for us to improve and I'm sure there are areas for them to improve as well, but we're not going to pre-empt how exactly they are going to do it.

"We're just going to focus on ourselves I think. That's the key message."

Stander is the only member of Ireland's squad who is unavailable for the second Test and Joe Schmidt names his team on Thursday afternoon.

South Africa also name their team after Thursday's training session, with Coetzee waiting on the fitness of Duane Vermeulen (knee) and Lood de Jager (ankle).

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