PAUL O’CONNELL WILL take over the captain’s armband when Ireland begin their RBS Six Nations campaign against Wales on 5 February.
The Munster skipper has been chosen by coach Declan Kidney to lead out the national side out in the absence of Brian O’Driscoll who is continuing his recovery following surgery on an injured shoulder.
O’Connell, who has 82 international caps, has captained Ireland on a number of occasions in the past, most recently in the World Cup warm-ups against England last August.
“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 to,” O’Connell said as the squad began their preparations for the tournament with a two-day training camp in Carton House, Maynooth.
“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 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.”
Speaking following this morning’s announcement, Kidney said that his side has plenty of leaders capable of filling the void left by O’Driscoll’s absence.
“There are a number of players with strong leadership credentials in the squad who have always been supportive of the captaincy and will be important during the Championship,” Kidney said.
“Paul has always been one of those leaders in the squad and I was delighted that he accepted the honour and the responsibilities that it brings. I know that he will bring through his experience to the position in the Championship.”