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Rory Best 'the ideal candidate to take over' Irish captaincy, says Johnny Sexton

The out-half reckons it was an easy decision for Joe Schmidt.

Image: James Crombie/INPHO

YESTERDAY’S APPOINTMENT OF Rory Best as the Ireland captain was met with unequivocal support from players, according to Jonathan Sexton, himself an outside contender for the job.

Sexton, along with Leinster team-mates Sean O’Brien and Jamie Heaslip, were among the names touted to lead their country after Paul O’Connell’s retirement. In Best however, Sexton sees the ‘ideal candidate’ for the job.

“The players are very happy with the decision,” Sexton said at Leinster’s UCD base today.

“I think Rory will be a great captain, he has been before. The Ulster lads sing his praises up north about how he leads.

“You can see the way he conducts himself on and off the pitch, (he’s) the ideal candidate to take over. It was a pretty easy decision I’m sure.”

The very first query of the day was directed at Leinster head coach Leo Cullen, who found himself again attempting to dampen down the growing hype around centre Garry Ringrose. His time will come, most likely later this year if his form persists. For now though, the young Leinster gun who did make the cut for Joe Schmidt’s Ireland squad was Josh van der Flier.

“He applies himself really, really well and works incredibly hard at his game,” Cullen says of the versatile young back row.

He has made steady progress all season and we’re delighted for him being in the Six Nations squad for the first time. He fully deserves that recognition for the work he does and the performances he’s put in for us over the last number of months.”

As for the men who missed out on the Ireland captaincy, Cullen quickly quashed any suggestion that they would feel jilted at being overlooked in favour of Best.

“Jamie and Sean are really good team players. First and foremost on their minds will be making sure the team performs. That’s the type of guys they are.”

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Sean Farrell

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