Head coach for the Irish rugby squad, Declan Kidney, has announced that Jamie Heaslip will take over as captain, replacing Brian O’Driscoll.
O’Driscoll (34) has led Ireland’s team to a Grand Slam, one Six Nations Championship and four Triple Crowns during his 83 match tenure. The Leinster centre announced last month that he will not be playing rugby when the 2105 World Cup comes round and may not even be present during the next season.
Speaking to the press Kidney said, “The captaincy was not something Brian was ever going to give up.
“I felt that he should give it up maybe some time in the future but he wouldn’t have felt that the time would be right now.
“Sometimes as a coach that’s what your job is, to make the calls you feel are at the right time for the player even though the player mightn’t agree with you. There’s not too many ways of saying it but it is very tough. It’s just doing your job.
“Brian accepted the decision. He will be disappointed but he is man enough to say, ‘Well, that’s the decision’, and he understands. He has been captain, he has been around. He has seen the way these decisions are made and how fellas need to react to it. That is the way he will react.
“None of us are here forever, so if you’re not disappointed when something is taken from you, then you’re not human. Disappointed is a word that describes how you feel, it’s not a word that describes how you act. Isn’t it way better to have him in the dressing room and have him there and have that experience to lean on as much as wait for it to be gone?”
However, Kidney did say, “There is nothing to say that Brian won’t be back as captain in the future. Jamie is captain for the Six Nations and then we’ll assess how things are after that.”
In response O’Driscoll said, “I was naturally very disappointed not to be leading the team in the Six Nations, when I talked it through with Declan I accepted the reasons behind the decision.
“I’ve always known that the Rugby World Cup in 2015 was most likely a bridge too far for me, so at some point a player, who will most likely be there for the tournament, needs to build that captaincy experience. Jamie will do a fantastic job and along with the other senior players in the leadership group, I will be giving him all of the support that he needs.”
Here’s the line out for Ireland’s Six Nations training squad:
Backs: I Boss (Leinster), D Cave (Ulster), G D'Arcy (Leinster), K Earls (Munster), L Fitzgerald (Leinster), C Gilroy (Ulster), R Henshaw (Connacht), P Jackson (Ulster), R Kearney (Leinster), I Madigan (Leinster), P Marshall (Ulster), F McFadden (Leinster), D McSharry (Connacht), C Murray (Munster), B O'Driscoll (Leinster), R O'Gara (Munster), E Reddan (Leinster), J Sexton (Leinster), A Trimble (Ulster), S Zebo (Munster).
Forwards: M Bent (Leinster), R Best (Ulster), S Cronin (Leinster), T Court (Ulster), D Fitzpatrick (Ulster), C Healy (Leinster), J Heaslip (captain, Leinster), I Henderson (Ulster), C Henry (Ulster), D Kilcoyne (Munster), M McCarthy (Connacht), S O'Brien (Leinster), D O'Callaghan (Munster), P O'Mahony (Munster), M Ross (Leinster), D Ryan (Munster), L Stevenson (Ulster), R Strauss (Leinster), D Toner (Leinster).