MX23RW : Sunday, December 16 01:57:34

Rory Best takes over Ireland captaincy

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt picks Rory Best to captain the team for their Six Nations opener against Wales next month.

Rory Best has been appointed captain for Ireland's first Six Nations clash against Wales on February 7.

The 33-year-old has taken over the responsibility from Paul O'Connell, who retired from international rugby after the most recent World Cup.

Jamie Heaslip will act as the vice-skipper to a squad that has seen CJ Stander, Ultan Dillane, Josh van der Flier and Stuart McCloskey receive their first ever call-ups.

However, there was no room in Joe Schmidt's 35-man selection for Cian Healy or Mike Ross.

Ireland squad to face Wales:

Forwards

Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster), Sean Cronin (St. Mary's College/Leinster), James Cronin (Dolphin/Munster), Ultan Dillane (Corinthians/Connacht), Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster), Jamie Heaslip (Dublin University/Leinster), Rob Herring (Ballynahinch/Ulster), Mike McCarthy (Lansdowne/Leinster), Jack McGrath (St. Mary's College/Leinster), Martin Moore (Lansdowne/Leinster), Sean O'Brien (UCD/Leinster), Tommy O'Donnell (UL Bohemians/Munster), Rhys Ruddock (St Mary's College/Leinster), Donnacha Ryan (Shannon/Munster), CJ Stander (Munster), Richardt Strauss (Old Wesley/Leinster), Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster), Josh van der Flier (UCD/Leinster), Nathan White (Connacht)

Backs

Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster), Luke Fitzgerald (Blackrock College/Leinster), Robbie Henshaw (Buccaneers/Connacht), Paddy Jackson (Dungannon/Ulster), David Kearney (Lansdowne/Leinster), Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster), Ian Madigan (Blackrock College/Leinster), Kieran Marmion (Corinthians/Connacht), Luke Marshall (Ballymena/Ulster), Stuart McCloskey (McCloskey/Ulster), Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster)
Jared Payne (Ulster), Eoin Reddan (Lansdowne/Leinster), Jonathan Sexton (St Mary's College/Leinster), Andrew Trimble (Ballymena/Ulster), Simon Zebo (Cork Con/Munster)


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Joe Schmidt, the Ireland head coach looks on during the International match between Ireland and New Zealand All Blacks at the Aviva Stadium on November 24, 2013
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