‘He’s a generational talent’ – Ireland legend’s bold choice for Andy Farrell’s next captain

Colin Newboult
Dan Sheehan and Ireland team-mates during the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

Dan Sheehan and Ireland team-mates during the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

Ireland great Keith Wood has gone left field with his preference for the national team’s next captain.

Munster’s Peter O’Mahony has been tipped to take over from Johnny Sexton, who retired following the Rugby World Cup, while James Ryan is also heavily fancied.

Ryan often did the job in Sexton’s absence and he is currently co-captain at Leinster alongside Garry Ringrose.

Wood’s choice

Wood has not selected any of those three, however, and believes that hooker Dan Sheehan is the ideal player to become Ireland’s skipper for the Six Nations.

“I don’t know him, so it’s hard when you’re looking at him, but I think he is a generational talent and we’ve been calling him that since he was about 23,” he told the Off The Ball podcast.

“I think he has a level of composure that I like a lot. For me, I like having a hooker there because he is always going to be beside the referee.

“You either have a hooker or you have a good second-row. Even a number eight at times, although I’m not as keen on a number eight being captain because they have to make a huge amount of immediate decisions, so you’re looking at levelling out the bases under which you’re going to be under pressure.”

Sheehan has been one of the world’s best players in 2023 and, injury-depending, is a guaranteed starter for the 2024 Six Nations.

Ryan will also take his place in the forward pack having starred during their Grand Slam triumph in March and the recent Rugby World Cup.

Missed the quarter-final loss

His presence was very much missed in the World Cup quarter-final as they went down 28-24 to the All Blacks.

It would therefore be unsurprising should the Leinster lock be selected as Andy Farrell’s new captain, while Ringrose is a similarly viable option, but Wood does not like having the same skipper for both club and country.

“Having done it with club and country in the same year, I’m not a fan of it. I think you need to have a respite at some stage,” he added.

“I don’t like the co-captain thing at all, so I would just make it Ringrose at Leinster and, if you do that, Sheehan is the standout in Ireland for me.”

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