Thursday 22 February 2018

Kearney wants Ireland captaincy but insists he's 'not ready' yet

Hugh Farrelly

ROB KEARNEY says he would welcome the "highest honour" of captaining Ireland, but believes Paul O'Connell or Rory Best are the best options heading into the Six Nations.

With Brian O'Driscoll unavailable until the end of the season, Ireland need a new captain for the Six Nations and Kearney's name has been suggested as a candidate alongside existing vice-captains O'Connell and Best.

The full-back does not turn 26 until March and would fit the age profile if Ireland seek a long-term leader to take them towards the World Cup in England in 2015.

However, while Kearney says he was flattered when his name was linked with the role, he believes there are stronger candidates available to coach Declan Kidney.

"When your name is mentioned as having the attributes for that role, you take it as a compliment," said Kearney, who captained Ireland U-19s at the World Cup in 2005. "It is the highest honour and what you want to do.

"But it comes down to putting your best captain out there to win the game. Rory and Paul are the vice-captains and that would suggest they are the best options.

"I think it's a role you grow into. It is difficult for full-backs because you are not in the heat of the action, and you want your captain to be an inspirational figure, and sometimes full-back is a difficult position to be inspirational.

"But every player wants to captain their country, so we will see down the line."

Kearney is set to be named today at full-back in Leinster's team to face Bath in the Aviva tomorrow, with several changes likely to be made to the side that won 18-13 in The Rec last weekend.

This could mean a midfield partnership of Eoin O'Malley at 13 and Fergus McFadden at 12 in place of Gordon D'Arcy. Cian Healy, Devin Toner, Shane Jennings and Eoin Reddan could also return.

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