Sport International Rugby

Sunday 25 September 2016

Sean O'Brien latest to declare hand as captaincy race heats up

Rugby

Published 19/01/2016 | 02:30

Sean O'Brien has confirmed his interest in the captain role for Ireland. Photo: Matt Browne / Sportsfile
Sean O'Brien has confirmed his interest in the captain role for Ireland. Photo: Matt Browne / Sportsfile

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt is still keeping the identity of his new Ireland captain a closely-guarded secret as Sean O'Brien confirmed his interest in the role vacated by the retired Paul O'Connell.

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"There is no discussion back and forth," said the Leinster flanker yesterday. "When you go into camp, it will be announced and we will just run with it."

O'Brien captained the side during the World Cup warm-up series last autumn and he has enthusiastically warmed to growing speculation that he could be handed the job, although Schmidt may not appoint a captain when he announces his Six Nations squad later this week.

"It would be something you would embrace, a huge honour if you were asked to do it," added O'Brien, who has won 41 caps in a green jersey.

"I have not actually thought that much about it. It's just a word after your name. You just have to keep doing what you are doing. I don't see it as a burden or anything on you.

"The team is full of leaders anyway so not a whole lot will change. Whoever does get it, he'll be backed by a lot of support from management and players."

Schmidt will name both Cian Healy (knee) and Mike Ross (hamstring) in what is traditionally an extended squad, although both men are facing an increasingly fraught race to make the starting line against Wales on February 7.

Saracens' recalled England wing Chris Ashton has been cited for allegedly making contact with the eye area of Ulster centre Luke Marshall last weekend, puting a doubt over his Six Nations participation.

Irish Independent

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