Who Should Replace Johnny Sexton As Ireland Captain?
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Sexton has been a mainstay in the Ireland squad for over a decade, first taking the captaincy in 2019. Despite being 36, he still intends to keep playing at a high level for as long as he can, but there is obviously a limit on how much longer the fly-half can keep going. Eventually, Ireland will need to replace him, but who is suitable?
Ireland certainly isn’t without talented players, but currently, it’s unclear who would be the best choice to replace Sexton. Over the past seven Six Nations tournaments, Sexton has played 32 of Ireland’s 35 games, including all fifteen of the last three. It seems as though Sexton has the ability to stay injury-free for some time yet, but at 36, it’s certainly time to start looking for a replacement. Bonusfinder Ireland offers some potential replacements for Sexton’s role as captain below.
At only twenty-five years old, he would be one of the youngest Ireland captains since Brian O’Driscoll, but the lock does have prior experience taking leadership of a team. He previously captained Ireland at U20 level and captained the senior side in a defeat to England at the Autumn Nations Cup in 2020. Having been previously written off as captain material for a lack of experience, Ryan now has a better chance of taking the captaincy, although he still has just 37 caps. In addition, Ryan is the current vice-captain of the team, meaning he’s seen by most as Sexton’s successor. He would be most people’s number one pick for the captaincy, but there are other options.
He recently captained the country for the first time on February 14, 2021. As far as captaincy candidates go, there are few options that have more experience than Henderson. He has 63 caps for the national team and has been captain of Ulster since the 2019-20 season. He got his first appearance for Ireland back in 2012 and has been one of the main options in the squad, also making the British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa in 2021.
At 32 years old, he might not be the best candidate for longevity, but he certainly has lots of experience. O’Mahoney is currently the most capped player in the Ireland squad aside from Sexton, with 76 caps. In addition, O’Mahoney also has plenty of experience as a captain, leading the Presentation brothers College, Ireland U18, Ireland U20, Munster, Ireland, and British and Irish Lions squads. He first captained Munster in 2011, just one year after his debut for the side. He was called up to the senior Ireland side in 2012 and also made captain just a year later for Ireland’s tour of North America.
Stockdale is considered one of the brightest talents of the Ireland squad after he won the 2018 player of the tournament award at the Six Nations. In addition, Stockdale scored the try that secured Ireland’s first-ever win against the All Blacks on Irish soil in 2018. Since then, he’s earned 34 caps for Ireland and has impressed each time he played. While he doesn’t have much experience as a captain, he has plenty of talent, and good teams often need players that lead from the front.