In the absence of regular captain Brian O’Driscoll, who will miss the forthcoming Six Nations whilst recovering from shoulder surgery, it has been confirmed that experienced lock Paul O’Connell will lead the Irish.
Munster Rugby captain O’Connell has led his nation in the past, against France in 2004 and in an reshuffled side against England in the build up to last year’s World Cup.
As well as the experience that comes with captaining his nation and one of the giants of European club Rugby, O Connell also showed excellent leadership skills when he skippered the British and Irish Lions on their 2009 tour of South Africa.
The next stage of his international and captaining careers will begin on February 5th when Ireland take on Wales in their Six Nations opener at the Aviva Stadium. The latest Betfair Six Nations Betting odds suggest that he’ll get off to a winning start.
O’Connell has described playing for Ireland as “the greatest ambition in a player’s career” and the opportunity to captain his nation as “a huge honour” and has described himself as being “delighted when Declan (Kidney) asked me to”.
O Connell has represented his national side on 82 occasions and has said he has always felt a responsibility to act as a leader in the team as one of the senior members of every squad he has played in. Ireland he believes has “a couple of outstanding leaders across the pitch” and he believes he will be able to rely on support from many of the other senior players he will be leading into battle.
Declan Kidney is no doubt relieved to be able to call upon a talisman such as O’Connell in the absence of O’Driscoll and has said he “knows that he will bring through his experience to the position (of captain) in the championship”. The fact that O’Connell also leads his club’s team in the Betfair Heineken Cup 2012, and can certainly add something to the Ireland set-up.
After the Wales game, Ireland take on France in Paris before home games against Italy and Scotland, before a trip to Twickenham to face England of March 17th. With trips to Paris and London in the campaign it will be a challenging one for them, but under O’Connell’s leadership they will no doubt put their all into it and show some of the commitment their new captain is known for.