Saturday 21 January 2017

Ex-Ireland boss Eddie O'Sullivan picks who he thinks should be Joe Schmidt's next captain

Published 04/01/2016 | 21:23

Eddie O'Sullivan
Eddie O'Sullivan

Former Ireland head coach Eddie O'Sullivan has had his say on who Joe Schmidt should choose to be man to lead the reigning Six Nations champions as captain next month.

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Since the international retirement of Paul O'Connell  after the Rugby World Cup, speculation has been mounting as to who would take over from the Limerick man as the captain of Ireland.

Injured flanker Peter O'Mahony, Ulster skipper Rory Best, flyhalf Jonathan Sexton, Leinster's Jamie Heaslip and Tullow Tank Sean O'Brien have all been touted for the role.

Speaking on Off The Ball on Newstalk, O'Sullivan was asked if Heaslip's sometimes tetchy relationship with the media would be a consideration in Schmidt's decision making process and he gave his opinion on who should assume the mantle of leading the players in 2016.

"Some of the ways (Jamie) has handled himself this year have been fraught but not as fraught as the headlines suggested. He got hung out to dry about something which wasn't a big deal but that's the nature of the way it works," he said.

"If he is to be the next Irish captain, he has to contain that.

"I think he has a couple of times, responded in a way that he shouldn't have responded. I think to be fair, the reaction was an overreaction but that's life.

"Rory Best looks to me like the guy to me that would be most likely to receive the captain's armband going forward. Now, he is 33 years of age, so the question is, will he be the Irish hooker in four years time for the world cup? That's debatable.

But I can see him being in situ until the next captain is groomed because you do need that stability now going into a new cycle and you will have new players coming into the squads," said Eddie.

"His experience - and he's an exceptional guy - he's an extraordinarily talented rugby player and he's a fantastic leader. He's always been captain material. So that takes pressure of the future captains on the basis that they're learning their trade around."

Ireland begin their quest for a third Six Nation title in a row with a clash against Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7.

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