Saturday 1 October 2016

Off The Ball: Long-term captain the answer for Ireland

Michael McCarthy

Published 06/01/2016 | 02:30

Robbie Henshaw could be the obvious choice for Ireland captain. Photo: Stephen McCarthy / Sportsfile
Robbie Henshaw could be the obvious choice for Ireland captain. Photo: Stephen McCarthy / Sportsfile

Before the 2002 Autumn Internationals, with Keith Wood sidelined indefinitely, Eddie O'Sullivan chose Brian O'Driscoll as the new Ireland captain.

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Although it seems straightforward now, O'Driscoll was only 23 at the time, in the senior team for just three years. He was already established as a superstar after the Lions tour the year before, but at 23, how could O'Sullivan be sure he had the ability and nous to captain his country at such a young age?

The answer is that he couldn't. It was a punt. The future of Irish rugby was Brian O'Driscoll, so why not make him the leader of the team?

Joe Schmidt is likely to choose Rory Best or Jamie Heaslip as Ireland's next captain.

I would love him to take a leaf out of Eddie's book.

We talk about World Cup cycles all the time in rugby, but the Irish team rarely seems to pay much attention to them? With the way the season has gone thus far, isn't it time to start looking at the future? Robbie Henshaw (below) is the obvious choice as natural heir.

Why not pick a leader now for the World Cup of 2023? We surely want our house in order for that of all tournaments.

MMcC

Irish Independent

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