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O'Driscoll says there's 'no rush' with James Ryan being Ireland captain

There have been many calls for the 23-year-old to succeed the retired Rory Best.

AS THE CALLS for 23-year-old second row James Ryan to be installed as Ireland captain grow in the wake of the World Cup, former skipper Brian O’Driscoll has encouraged incoming head coach Andy Farrell to be patient.

Rory Best retired from rugby after Ireland’s World Cup quarter-final exit, leaving the Ireland captaincy unoccupied.

Farrell will need to make a decision on a new official leader before the 2020 Six Nations, with many supporters and some in the media calling for Ryan to be handed the role.

james-ryan-dejected-after-the-game Ryan is already a key player for Ireland. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

The Leinster second row captained virtually all of the underage teams he played on but has not held the role at senior provincial level yet. Ryan looks a certainty to captain Leinster and Ireland in the future, but O’Driscoll said Farrell should consider giving the 23-times capped lock more time to develop at Test level.

“I don’t know James, I’m merely looking from the outside at what I see and what I hear from the lads about what sort of person he is. That’s such an important aspect, what sort of person they are,” said O’Driscoll in Tokyo yesterday.

“It’s clear as daylight that he has the immediate respect of the senior players and that’s a very important standpoint.

“He’s absolutely capable of being captain of this team – some will say what’s the rush? Maybe give Johnny Sexton the captaincy for a year and let James become the mainstay and leader in that pack for a year before giving it to him. There’s no rush.

“Will he be the captain for the World Cup in 2023? All things being equal, you’d be hopeful. I think that makes sense but if he’s going to be captain at 24, he’s 23 now, so he has a few years to get that right.

“I can see a reason for both; for giving it to him and not as well, and I don’t think there’s a wrong in either. But maybe just look at giving him an opportunity as pack leader for a little bit longer, albeit being the main voice in there.

“Who knows what’s going to happen with Pete [O'Mahony] and that, but give him [Ryan] that leadership within the forwards and then maybe he’s the obvious choice for a year down the track.”

land-rover-rugby-world-cup-2019 O'Driscoll is an ambassador for Land Rover, Official Worldwide Partner of Rugby World Cup 2019. Source: Photocall Ireland

O’Driscoll knows from experience how tough it can be captaining Ireland at the age of 23, having done so in 2002 under Eddie O’Sullivan.

“It was,” said O’Driscoll. “I was 23 and I didn’t really know how to be a captain. He’s been a captain of underage teams. I didn’t really captain underage teams and I was leading by the way I played and the way I trained, more than what I said.

“Clearly I don’t know how much he speaks in team meetings. I presume he’s a smart guy and it sounds like he’s pretty level-headed and is a good orator, so that helps. But ultimately it’s about how he plays, how he trains and how he carries himself.

“Captaincy is a lot more than what you say to your team-mates. It’s how you live your role and I think all the messages that I’ve heard about that, he’s a phenomenally good pro and he’s a rugby anorak.

“More is more for him and that’s a good place to get the respect you need as a captain.”

Land Rover is Official Worldwide Partner of Rugby World Cup 2019.  With over 20 years of heritage supporting rugby at all levels, Land Rover is celebrating what makes rugby, rugby. #LandRoverRugby

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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