Best voted in by peers

Date published: January 28 2016

Coach Joe Schmidt has revealed that the Irish players have voted Rory Best as their captain during a secret ballot. 

Coach Joe Schmidt pointed to the fact that Best is the most experience player in his current squad. The hooker succeeds retired lock Paul O'Connell.

"He is our most-capped international currently, and his experience and his performances for the team have been first-rate," Schmidt said.

"Off the pitch he's the consummate professional. And as a gentleman farmer he's got lots of time on his hands to commit to the various duties that captaincy requires!"

The Ulster player was the favourite to fill the shoes of the towering O'Connell with Jamie Heaslip, Johnny Sexton and Peter O'Mahony all being serious contenders. O'Connell succeeded the 133 Test Capped Brian O'Driscoll.

"When the coaches and management got together, all we did was really endorse the feeling from the playing group," said Schmidt.

Best has been fully aware of the task that lies ahead.

"It's a big challenge," said Best after the announcement. "Speaking to Paul before, he took over from Brian, it was a big challenge stepping into those shoes," said Best.

"You don't have to reinvent things just because you're captain. You just keep trying to lead by example.

"We lean very heavily on the senior players like we have done in the past two years under Joe and that will continue.

"There's some really, really good senior players with experience of captaining sides at international and club level."

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