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Schmidt expresses caution as 'impressive' James Ryan is touted as Ireland captain

The 23-year-old second row is many people’s choice to succeed Rory Best.

FORMER IRELAND HEAD coach Joe Schmidt has cautioned against rushing second row James Ryan into the national team captaincy but says the 23-year-old could grow into the role.

New Ireland boss Andy Farrell will name a new captain ahead of the 2020 Six Nations after the retirement of Rory Best.

Asked about the Ireland captaincy at an event in the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre to promote his new book – Ordinary Joe – Schmidt indicated that his two former vice-captains, Johnny Sexton and Peter O’Mahony, would be chief among his thoughts for the next Ireland skipper.

joe-schmidt-ahead-of-the-game Schmidt is currently promoting his new book. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“The two vice-captains are Johnny and Pete so if there was going to be continuity, it would be Johnny and Pete,” said Schmidt.

“But there are some really strong up-and-coming players who may or may not be ready. It’s not my decision to make so I don’t want to pre-empt anyone else’s decision. Faz [Farrell] is very aware of Johnny and Pete having both captained the side when Rory hasn’t been playing.”

Schmidt was then asked directly about 23-year-old Ryan’s qualities by host Joe Molloy, with many supporters keen to see the Leinster man step up to the national team captaincy.

Ryan has led virtually every team he has played for so far in his career, although he has yet to captain Leinster at senior level.

“The one thing I would just be hesitant about is that I wouldn’t want to put too much on his shoulders,” said Schmidt.

joe-schmidt-with-james-ryan Schmidt handed James Ryan his Ireland debut in 2017. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“He’s got a great set of shoulders and they’re growing all the time, as is the rest of his body. I think it would be great to let him grow into himself before giving that responsibility to him.

“At the same time, it can help a person grow in stature because they do assume that responsibility and James is a guy that tends to take things in his stride.

“As a very young man, he very quickly established himself as a starting player in a very competitive Irish team. So he is an impressive young man.”

Joe Schmidt will be in conversation with Joe Molloy again tomorrow, Thursday 5 December, at the University Concert Hall in Limerick. Every ticket includes a signed copy of Joe Schmidt’s autobiography, Ordinary Joe’.

- Originally published at 08.07

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Murray Kinsella

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