The discussion is raging about who should be the new captain of the national rugby team. Not just in England, but also in Ireland.
Joe Schmidt’s decision might not be as high profile as Eddie Jones’s, but it is just as important, maybe more so.
Ireland are defending Six Nations champions and are looking to defend the title. With the role of captain being of real importance in a rugby team, the new skipper will be a big part of whether or not Ireland will be able to defend the title.
Currently the favourites to follow Paul O’Connell as captain are Johnny Sexton, Rory Best, Jamie Heaslip, Peter O’Mahoney, Sean O’Brien and Connor Murray.
O’Connell followed Brian O’Driscoll, and both men were great captains. They were calm influences on the team and men who lead the team not just in word but also in example.
Having captained the side on several occassions in the absence of O’Connell, Jamie Heaslip is a strong contender to be named as Ireland’s new on-field leader, but some suggest the public’s favourite at the moment would be Munster’s O’Mahoney.
Both men have been a strong presence in the Irish back row and neither has shied away from the fray or from putting in hard work. Maybe the public would be right though, in appointing the current Munster captain over Heaslip. Being the skipper of one of the big provinces could be a benefit, and O’Mahoney took over that job from O’Connell as well.
A firm favourite would also be the experienced Sexton, but his frequent injuries and the need to be thinking about a replacement for the out half will definitely influence Schmidt’s decision.
Another influence on that decision will be the position on the field. With the front rowers usually not completing the game these days, Best might be dropped from the contest for that reason. Murray being a scrum half might also hamper him as captain as he has to talk a lot.
Every scrum half also tries to influence the referee all the time, which does not always help the relationship. Though it must be noted Murray is not nearly as vocal or pressuring towards the referee as some others are.
O’Brien is a solid player and a grand example to the side as well, but the light of his star pales in comparison to that of O’Mahoney and Heaslip.
Who do you think should be Ireland’s new captain?
Paul Peerdeman, Pundit Arena