Thursday 19 October 2017

Gordon D'Arcy backs Ireland hooker Rory Best for 2019 World Cup captaincy

Gordon D'Arcy, pictured, believes Joe Schmidt will want Rory Best to captain Ireland at the 2019 World Cup
Gordon D'Arcy, pictured, believes Joe Schmidt will want Rory Best to captain Ireland at the 2019 World Cup

Ireland will develop contingency plans for the 2019 World Cup captaincy across the RBS 6 Nations, according to Gordon D'Arcy.

Former Ireland centre D'Arcy believes boss Joe Schmidt will want Rory Best to captain the side at the 2019 tournament, even though the hooker will be 37 by then.

Prop John Hayes extended his Ireland career to the age of 37, but 34-year-old Best has so far refused to look beyond 2018 when his current contract expires.

Jamie Heaslip will continue as vice captain for the Six Nations, with half-backs Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton retaining vast influence.

"I would be very surprised if Joe hasn't thought about who he would like to be captaining in the future," D'Arcy told Press Association Sport.

"The way Rory has conducted himself as captain, how he's led the team and how he's playing personally, I'm sure he would be delighted if Rory gets to the World Cup.

"But I'm sure he will have two or three contingencies in mind.

"There probably isn't a standout yet, but I would be confident we'll start seeing some potential candidates coming through in the Six Nations."

England boss Eddie Jones has spoken of a leadership void behind current skipper Dylan Hartley, and 82-cap centre D'Arcy believes Ireland head coach Schmidt will also be looking to boost his own captaincy resources.

Back-row duo CJ Stander and Peter O'Mahony boast captaincy experience with Munster, but former British and Irish Lions centre D'Arcy expects a few dark horses to start stating their leadership credentials.

"For captaincy, your age is irrelevant: if you're the right guy, you're the right guy," said D'Arcy, speaking as part of his role in Accenture's analysis team.

"But I think Ireland will probably be in a position to draw up a shortlist by the end of the Six Nations.

"Leadership can't be taught, it has to be learned.

"You can't tell someone how to make decisions and how to act around his team-mates, and make good decisions that inspire other people.

"That's something that has to be learned culturally.

"There's a really strong culture in the Ireland team at the moment, there's a lot of homogeneity across the provinces and that's building into the national team really nicely."

D'Arcy expects the addition of try-scoring bonus points and World Rugby's zero-tolerance directive on high tackles to boost the attacking rugby on show in the Six Nations.

The former Leinster midfielder does not expect Ireland to have to modify their highly-successful choke tackle technique of forcing an attacker into a static maul to win turnovers.

"The choke tackle is a bad name for that to be fair: it's actually a hold-up tackle," said D'Arcy.

"For me it depends on what your entry into that hold-up tackle becomes.

"If you go in with a swinging arm you're going to have trouble. But the mechanics for the Ireland team in that situation are about absorbing the contact and holding the player up.

"And it's the second guy in who secures the turnover.

"I don't really see a problem with it in the new enforcement.

"For the Ireland players the job is to hold them up, get the turnover and keep 15 players in the field for 80 minutes.

"It's designed to force a turnover, nothing else, and the rules reflect that.

"It would be naive to think they are going to go away from that."

:: Gordon D'Arcy is part of the Accenture Analysis Team during the RBS 6 Nations, providing fans with insight and analysis to #Seebeyond standard match data. Follow @AccentureRugby or visit accenture-rugby.

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