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O’Connell takes over from BOD as Ireland captain

PAUL O’Connell will lead Ireland into the 2012 Six Nations Championship after being named as captain by Ireland coach today by Declan Kidney.

The greatest ambition in a player’s career is to play for your country, so to captain Ireland is a huge honour for me and I was delighted when Declan asked me," he said.

"I have been lucky to have played for my country on 82 occasions and during that time I have always felt that the responsibility of leadership should not just rest on the shoulders of Brian (O'Driscoll) and that the senior players are incredibly important.

"We are lucky in the Ireland squad that we have a couple of outstanding leaders across the pitch and I know that I will be relying on them during the championship".

O’Connell replaces Brian O’Driscoll as team captain as he continues his rehabilitation from surgery on a trapped nerve in his shoulder and has been ruled out of the RBS Six Nations Championship.

O’Connell has the experience of having already led Ireland at international level, the first time against France in 2004 and as recently as August against England in the Guinness Summer Series.

He also has the added experience of being the captain of the British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa in 2009.

Ireland are also set to confirm expanded roles for Les Kiss and Mark Tainton in the Six Nations, with no direct replacement for former backs coach Alan Gaffney.

Defence coach Kiss and kicking coach Tainton will see their tasks expanded to include roles for Ireland’s attacking play when the Six Nations gets under way in February.

It was deemed there was not enough time to find a replacement for Gaffney, whose deal expired after the World Cup.

Kiss has been a notable success since coming in as defence coach in 2008, earning widespread credit for his coaching of the ‘choke tackle’, which was a critical element in Ireland’s World Cup victory against Australia and has been introduced as a defensive tactic by other nations.

The Ireland players not involved in this weekend’s PRO12 fixtures gathered in Carton House last night for their first camp since the World Cup defeat to Wales.