Sunday 19 November 2017

Seanie ready to lead Irish

Carlow captain has learned from the best

Ireland skipper Sean O’Brien at squad training
Ireland skipper Sean O’Brien at squad training

Who will succeed Paul O'Connell as Ireland's captain for the next Six Nations?

The smart money is on Leinster captain Jamie Heaslip. There are other candidates. Peter O'Mahony. Rob Kearney too.

Sean O'Brien will slip his hand through the armband tomorrow in what is an experience he would like to have on a more permanent basis for his country.

"It is something obviously that you would love to do. If that time comes, so be it," he said.

"For now, I have a job to do on Saturday and I won't look past that."

As usual, the personal will be sacrificed for the collective, even though O'Brien should have his hands on the ball more than any other forward from number eight.

"I will just try and do what I do usually, lead by example on the field if I can, do good drills, keep my distance you know, don't too much talking to the referee," he smiled.

The Carlow man is a natural leader-by-example and he has, like Heaslip, learned the ropes from two renowned men in O'Connell and Leo Cullen.

"Obviously, Paulie and Leo are two fellahs to look up too as being captains. There is just so much experience.

"Again, they lead by example on the field themselves without saying a whole lot."

So much of what O'Brien is all about is what he does.

His fearless attitude to the game is what has cost him time, in terms of injury.

He will look no further than the Scottish back row combination of Blair Cowan, new boy Hugh Blake and robust Dave Denton.

"Cowan is a very good link player, he is very good defensively. He is good over the ball," reviewed O'Brien.

"Blake, looking at some vision this week, he back-ends really well.

"He gets back up on his feet quickly, he is a nuisance around the ruck.

"Denton obviously brings a huge physicality to the game, a good lineout operator and is someone who causes a bit of havoc around the breakdown."

He will have Ireland's nuisance factor Chris Henry in there in the trenches and the keen-to-impress Jack Conan on a day the 23 year-old will never forget.

The Irish should keep their momentum rolling with a 13th win from their last 14.

Ireland: S Zebo; T Bowe, J Payne, G D'Arcy, L Fitzgerald; I Madigan, I Boss; D Kilcoyne, S Cronin, M Ross, D Toner, D Tuohy, J Conan, C Henry, S O'Brien (capt).

Scotland: R Jackson; S Lamont, R Vernon, P Horne, T Visser; G Tonks, H Pyrgos (capt); R Grant, F Brown, J Welsh, J Hamilton, G Gilchrist, B Cowan, H Blake, D Denton.

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