“I’d Love To See Him Doing It” – Paul O’Connell On The Irish Captaincy

Skipper.

Former Ireland captain Paul O’Connell has backed Johnny Sexton to succeed Rory Best as Ireland’s next skipper – at least for a period.

Sexton, Peter O’Mahony and James Ryan seem to be the three frontrunners to replace the Ulsterman but O’Connell feels it would be a “shame” if Sexton didn’t get a chance to captain his country.

O’Connell was captain of Ireland for just two years himself and feels a similar run for Sexton would be a great move for Ireland before he passes the mantle on to someone younger in James Ryan.

“I think it would be a shame if Johnny [Sexton] didn’t do it for a period,” O’Connell said at a Joe Schmidt event in Limerick this week to promote his new book.

“I think James Ryan is probably the long-term future captain.

“I think it would be a shame and I know some players don’t want to be the Irish captain even though they’re the right guy to do it because it’s not an easy job.

“But I think Johnny has always unashamedly wanted to be the Irish captain and I think it would be a shame if he didn’t do it for a period.

“I’d love to see him doing it.

“Maybe for two years, similar to what I did. I ended up doing it for two years and then it could be over to James Ryan.”

O’Connell reckons it might be a little too soon for Ryan to get the captaincy because he thinks it’s nice to get it when you “feel ready” for the role.

The former Munster and Ireland lock said Ryan has had plenty of “ups” in his career but is yet to suffer too many “downs” yet.

“It would be a shame for James Ryan to get it too early,” O’Connell continued.

“It’s nice to get it at a time when you feel ready to do it. When you’ve had all the ups and downs because he’s had a lot of ups – but he hasn’t had many downs.

“I know he’s had the World Cup disappointment but he still played pretty well himself individually.

“So I think I’d love to see Johnny getting it for a period because he would be eager to get it and if you want a guy that’s going to take responsibility all the time and blame himself all the time he’s that kind of character.”