Joe Schmidt explains why Rhys Ruddock is "ideal" Ireland captain in Japan

The Ireland team are preparing for the upcoming tour

Ireland, rugby, Joe Schmidt, Rhys Ruddock

Head coach Joe Schmidt and Rhys Ruddock ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

 Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has backed Rhys Ruddock's credentials to captain the team on the upcoming tour to Japan.

The Leinster back row will captain the touring team and  Schmidt, noted his leadership qualities from last summer's series in South Africa.

"He's been in the squad for a long time. He's had a few injuries and therefore he's missed out a little bit lately but obviously was one of the guys to come to South Africa last year and led by example," said Schmidt to Irish Rugby TV.

"He captained Leinster when I was there so I really know that he can do the job first hand and I think he has a fair measure of respect from his fellow players, so they're all pretty good reasons to have him involved.

"We have a young group and obviously some of the guys who have led the team like Rory [Best], Jamie [Heaslip] and Peter [O'Mahony] in the past - four years ago Peter O'Mahony was the guy who led the tour - so it's time for the mantle to be handed on for this tour and Rhys is an ideal candidate." 

Meanwhile, Tommy O'Donnell will miss the upcoming tour.

The Munster back row is expected to be out for four weeks which will see him miss the summer tour but makes him available for his province's pre-season programme. 

Ulster's Sean Reidy has been called into the travelling party in his place.