Early on Monday morning, Leo Cullen pulled Garry Ringrose aside for a chat.
The coach was planning to rest captain Johnny Sexton for today’s PRO14 final, while vice-captain Rhys Ruddock is not getting a game right now, so he needed someone to step into the breach.
A three-time Heineken Cup-winning captain for the Blues during his distinguished playing career, Cullen surveyed his options and settled on his fellow Blackrock College alumnus as the man to lead the team onto the Aviva Stadium pitch.
An established starter and a growing presence as a leadership figure for club and country, tonight will be the 25-year-old centre’s first outing as captain. And while he will not let it distract him from his main role, he was delighted to get the nod.
“It’s probably the biggest honour of my rugby career, so it’s an incredibly special moment,” he said. “When I found out it was a pretty cool moment but I had to flick the switch and realise that’s irrelevant come Saturday, that what’s important is how we perform as a team.
“The preparation doesn’t change in terms of my individual prep, but there’s one or two extra conversations to be had.
“Thankfully there’s plenty of leaders on the pitch, the likes of James Ryan, Caelan Doris have captained before and then there’s Jamison (Gibson-Park) and Ross (Byrne).”
Cullen, meanwhile, had no hesitation.
“Garry has been excellent for us since he came back from the World Cup. He’s grown in that leadership space all the time,” said the Leinster head coach.