New Era

Sexton named captain as Ireland include five uncapped players for Six Nations

Rhys Ruddock, Niall Scannell and Stuart McCloskey are the big-name omissions from Andy Farrell’s 35-man group.

IRELAND HEAD COACH Andy Farrell has confirmed Johnny Sexton as the new national team captain ahead of the Six Nations.

Confirmation of Sexton’s appointment as captain came as Farrell named a 35-man Six Nations squad that includes five uncapped players.

Ulstermen Billy Burns and Tom O’Toole, and Leinster’s Max Deegan, Caelan Doris, and Ronan Kelleher have all been named in Farrell’s squad for the championship, which gets underway against Scotland in Dublin on Saturday 1 February.

Leinster flanker Rhys Ruddock, Ulster centre Stuart McCloskey, and Munster hooker Niall Scannell are among those to have been left out of the Six Nations squad.

jonathan-sexton-celebrates-winning Sexton is the new Ireland captain. Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Farrell has also named promising Leinster trio Ryan Baird, Harry Byrne, and Will Connors, as well as Ulster’s Robert Baloucoune, as ‘development players’ who will join Ireland for their training camp in Portugal next week, as well as during the build-up to the Scotland clash.

Sexton succeeds the now-retired Rory Best as captain, with Farrell backing the 34-year-old’s leadership skills as he looks to get his reign as Ireland boss off to a successful start.

Leinster out-half Sexton captained Ireland from the start of a game for the first time ever at last year’s World Cup in the clash with Russia, although he has assumed the leadership during games before and also captains his province.

The omissions of Ruddock, McCloskey, and Scannell will come as a shock to many Ireland supporters.

Ulster loosehead Jack McGrath has returned to the squad after missing out on World Cup selection, while Munster back row Jack O’Donoghue’s good form has also been rewarded.

Ireland’s 2020 Six Nations squad:

Hookers: Rob Herring, Dave Heffernan, Rónan Kelleher

Props: Cian Healy, Dave Kilcoyne, Jack McGrath, Tadhg Furlong, Andrew Porter, Tom O’Toole

Locks: James Ryan, Iain Henderson, Devin Toner, Ultan Dillane

Back rows: Josh van der Flier, CJ Stander, Jack O’Donoghue, Peter O’Mahony, Caelan Doris, Max Deegan

Scrum-halves: John Cooney, Conor Murray, Luke McGrath

Out-halves: Johnny Sexton (captain), Ross Byrne, Billy Burns

Centres: Bundee Aki, Robbie Henshaw, Garry Ringrose, Chris Farrell

Back threes: Jordan Larmour, Jacob Stockdale, Andrew Conway, Keith Earls, Will Addison, Dave Kearney

Development Players: Ryan Baird, Robert Baloucoune, Harry Byrne, Will Connors.

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