Six Nations

Best to captain Ireland at Six Nations

Rory Best (AFP Photo)
Rory Best (AFP Photo)

Dublin - Ulster hooker Rory Best was named as Toulon lock Paul O'Connell's successor as Ireland captain in the squad for the Six Nations that was announced on Wednesday.

O'Connell, 36, retired from Test duty during the World Cup after a hamstring injury ruled him out of the tournament and Best, 33, has seen off competition from Sean O'Brien and Johnny Sexton to become the new skipper.

Jamie Heaslip has been named vice-captain, while head coach Joe Schmidt has called up four uncapped players in Ultan Dillane, CJ Stander, Josh Van Der Flier and Stuart McCloskey for Ireland's defence of the trophy.

"As always there were a number of tight decisions, especially with a number of players not being available to play in recent weeks," Schmidt said in a statement on the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) website.

"With plenty of new personnel involved the RBS 6 Nations is going to be incredibly challenging and the players selected will know they will need to be at their best to be competitive."

Irish Six Nations Squad

Forwards (19):

Rory Best (Ulster, capt), Sean Cronin (Leinster), James Cronin (Munster), Ultan Dillane (Connacht), Tadhg Furlong (Leinster), Jamie Heaslip (Leinster), Rob Herring (Ulster), Mike McCarthy (Leinster), Jack McGrath (Leinster), Martin Moore (Leinster), Sean O'Brien (Leinster), Tommy O'Donnell (Munster), Rhys Ruddock (Leinster), Donnacha Ryan (Munster), CJ Stander (Munster), Richardt Strauss (Leinster), Devin Toner (Leinster), Josh van der Flier (Leinster), Nathan White (Connacht)

Backs (16):

Keith Earls (Munster), Luke Fitzgerald (Leinster), Robbie Henshaw (Connacht), Paddy Jackson (Ulster), David Kearney (Leinster), Rob Kearney (Leinster), Ian Madigan (Leinster), Kieran Marmion (Connacht), Luke Marshall (Ulster), Stuart McCloskey (Ulster), Conor Murray (Munster), Jared Payne (Ulster), Eoin Reddan (Leinster), Jonathan Sexton (Leinster), Andrew Trimble (Ulster), Simon Zebo (Munster)

Fixtures

Feb 07: v Wales (h)

Feb 13: v France (a)

Feb 27: v England (a)

Mar 12: v Italy (h)

Mar 19: v Scotland (h)

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