Before last November’s autumn tests, Schmidt rang Ross to say he would be trying out some young blood in Chicago and the three home tests. If an emergency arose, he’d get a call, but it was time to look forward.
“It was nice to get the call, I’d known the man a long time, nearly every medal I won, I won under him,” Ross said.
Tadhg Furlong filled Ross’s boots well in Chicago, doing what Ross and others before him had found impossible — beating the All Blacks.
The veteran prop couldn’t have been happier for the young buck. “I remember watching him in 2013 or 2014, he was playing against Cardiff,” he said. “You’d see flashes from him and I was thinking ‘shit, I’m in trouble here’.
“He’s a really good guy, we’ve a great relationship, we text each other a fair bit, we talk, he pops over for coffee now and then. I feel pride. A huge amount. It’s funny, it’s like a big brother, little brother kinda relationship, I’m trying to keep him under my wing. He’s done really well.”
After making the step up to test level look easy, Furlong experienced the tougher side of life with defeats in Scotland and Wales. Ross is certain Furlong will learn the required lessons.
“I said to him the other day, he’s going to find it more difficult the longer he goes on because teams will have more footage of him, they’ll figure out stuff, that will make life more difficult, and he’s going to have to evolve with it. I think he’s well capable of that,” he said.
Hopefully he sticks around.
Ruddock's tackle stats consistently too low for me to be taken seriously as a Six Nations blindside..... Ruddock's defensive stats don't stack up. - All Blacks Nil, Jan 15th, 2014
England A 8 - 14 Ireland A, 25th Jan 2014
Ruddock(c) 19/2 Tackles