O'Connell named Ireland captain
December 30, 2011
Paul O'Connell will lead Ireland into next year's Six Nations Championship © Getty Images
Veteran lock Paul O'Connell has been confirmed as Ireland's captain for the 2012 Six Nations.
The 32-year-old Munster second row, who has led his country on eight previous occasions - most recently in the Rugby World Cup warm-up clash with England in August, will fill the leadership void left by centre Brian O'Driscoll who will miss the entire Championship as he continues to recover from surgery on his shoulder.
O'Connell, who also led the British & Irish Lions to South Africa in 2009, was unveiled as the team's skipper as Ireland began their Six Nations preparations with a short two-day camp. Coach Declan Kidney insisted there were a number of players capable of fulfilling the role with O'Connell's experience giving him the edge.
"With Brian [O'Driscoll] on the rehab trail at the moment, we knew that we had to plan for the captaincy and felt that it was fitting that we announce it at the Christmas camp in front of the squad," Kidney explained in a statement. "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. 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."
O'Connell, who captained his country for the first time against France in 2004, was delighted to accept the honour once again. "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," he said. "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 [O'Driscoll] 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. I think the squad is in a good place at the moment with the majority of the provinces going well in Europe and in the Rabo, so it's a case of players continuing to play well to get themselves into a position to be selected in that first squad and then working hard for what I think will be an ultra competitive six nations. It was good to come back together for the first time since the World Cup and I am now just looking forward to February and to the challenge of the Championship."
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