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'It's a huge honour' - James Ryan to captain Ireland in Twickenham showdown against England


James Ryan

James Ryan

James Ryan

James Ryan is relishing the 'huge honour' of captaining Ireland from the start for the first time when he leads his country against England at Twickenham on Saturday.

With Johnny Sexton missing the Autumn Nations Cup game due to a hamstring injury, Andy Farrell has put his faith in Ryan, who has long been tipped as a future Ireland captain.

The 24-year-old took on the responsibility when Sexton was forced off during last week's win over Wales, and Ryan is now set to skipper Ireland from the start.

A former Ireland U-20s captain, this is seen as the natural next step for Ryan, who is the front-runner to lead Ireland at the next World Cup in France in 2023.

"(It's a) Huge honour for me, so I'm looking for it and probably the great thing about it is I won't be on my own,” Ryan said.

"There's guys like Peter O'Mahony there, Hendy (Iain Henderson), (Keith) Earlsy, you know a huge amount of experience.

"Johnny's in for the week as well, so we've very much been driving things together this week, as we usually would, so it's an exciting week for all of us.

"We start out the week as a collective, there's kind of a core group of us, so it's the same this week.

"But certainly having guys like Pete, Hendy, Earlsy there will make my job a lot easier."

Ryan insists that he won't allow the extra responsibility to be a burden on him this week, as he looks to rise to what is a big challenge.

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"To be honest it's the same for me this week as it is every week," he continued.

"I'm going to look to do my job pretty effectively. I hope to play well, not get sidetracked with all the captaincy stuff because I'm going to have to get my performance right just like everybody else is going to have to in order for us to get a result this weekend.

"There's probably a little bit of fear in every Test match at this level, whether it's going to Paris or going to Twickenham.

"The level is so high, it's going to take such a big effort to get what you want from it. So there's always a little bit of fear, but there's also a lot of excitement.

"It's a huge opportunity for us and we're all massively excited for it."

Ireland go into this weekend's game having lost their last three meetings against England, but the new skipper believes his side will be ready for the challenge.

"Yeah of course we’re going to need intensity obviously," Ryan added.

"Set-piece and defence is massive for us this week, it’s huge at this level, especially away from home. Looking at that game (defeat last February) that we lost, obviously we didn’t start well.

"You’ve got to start well at this level, you’ve got to start well going away to Twickenham because if you give a side like England momentum they’re very, very hard to stop.

"This weekend is a real test to see where we’re at, coming up against World Cup finalists so it’s obviously a big challenge."

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