Poll: Who should step into Paul O'Connell's boots to captain Ireland? 6 years ago

Poll: Who should step into Paul O'Connell's boots to captain Ireland?

Jamie Heaslip did a fine job standing in at the World Cup, but should the Leinster man be handed the Ireland captaincy back on a full-time basis?

The sad sight of Paul O'Connell limping off into the international rugby sunset has created a huge opening in the Ireland rugby team, giving Joe Schmidt the task of selecting his new captain ahead of the Six Nations.


O'Connell's leadership qualities were the stuff of legend and his presence was sorely missed as Argentina ran Ireland ragged in Cardiff on Sunday.

But with the Toulon-bound forward's days in green now firmly in the past tense, who is going to step up to wear the armband?

Jamie Heaslip

Current vice captain and the firm favourite.


Has already proven his worth as a leader, although perhaps prefers to let his play do as much of the talking as his pre-match words.

Took over after O'Connell's injury against France and made sure composure and standards were maintained, and while he couldn't repeat the trick against Argentina, did his damnedest to lead by example with a tireless effort.

Jamie Heaslip after the game 11/10/2015

Was named Ireland captain under Declan Kidney for the 2013 Six Nations before ceding the armband to O'Connell when Schmidt was named coach later that year. Succeed Leo Cullen as Leinster captain a year ago after filling in on a regular basis in previous seasons to great effect, so has no shortage of experience in the role. At 31 but has an incredible record of durability, so the prospect of the captaining Ireland at another World Cup could tempt him to stick around until his mid-30s.


Peter O'Mahony 

The Munster back row would be another popular choice, and at 26 would be seen as the long-term option for the next four-year World Cup cycle and beyond.

Peter O'Mahony is tackled by Louis Picamoles 11/10/2015

O'Mahony's ability to deliver inspirational moments on the field makes him a natural leader, and he was chosen to lead Ireland at both Under-18 and Under-20 level before being handed the Munster captaincy two years ago. Has also skippered the Irish senior side on the 2013 tour of North America.


One factor that could potentially count against him though is his injury record, with shoulder and now knee problems robbing him of too much rugby over the past few years.

Rory Best

At 33, Best is perhaps a long shot, and the Ulster man would certainly be the short-term candidate, but he does command total respect within the Irish set-up.

Rory Best 16/10/2015

Has already captained Ireland during a Six Nations campaign, stepping in for the injured Paul O'Connell in 2012 and remains a stalwart of the Irish pack, delivering pinpoint line out darts and making a big impact around the park at the World Cup.


Led Ulster from 2007 to 2011 before taking the captaincy back last year following the retirement of Johann Muller, and has played a key role in the development of Ulster into a side capable of competing with Munster and Leinster for the major trophies in club rugby.