The time for James Ryan to permanently assume the captaincy of Ireland has come in the eyes of the public. This has been the general response since it was announced on Tuesday that the lock will lead his country against England at Twickenham on Saturday.

ADVERTISEMENT

His chance in the Autumn Nations Cup comes in the absence of the injured Jonathan Sexton. The fly-half succumbed to a hamstring injury in the victory over Wales in Dublin on Friday, meaning the 24-year-old will now lead his country for the first time. 

The 35-year-old Sexton took over from Rory Best at the end of the World Cup last year, but Ryan has always been viewed as the long-term Ireland captaincy option. The lock has been his country’s best performer for the past two years now and has been operating at a world-class level. 

Video Spacer

Video Spacer
Johnny Sexton on his apology to Andy Farrell following his substitution in Paris

Now that the Leinster forward has been named captain by head coach Andy Farrell, the overwhelming view online is that this must become a permanent fixture. 

This is not only the natural decision to make given the way Ryan already leads from the front, but this would also relieve Sexton of the burden he has been carrying as captain throughout 2020. 

There is a case that his game in green has dropped since succeeding Best, while he also created controversy for his reaction towards the coaches box when replaced during Ireland’s Six Nations loss last month to France. He apologised to Farrell but his reputation was damaged with ex-Ireland skippers Brian O’Driscoll and Keith Wood criticising his behaviour.

ADVERTISEMENT

The hope would be may that Sexton might be able to conjure his best form when he returns from injury should this appointment of Ryan be a permanent one.

There are of course members of the squad with more experience both in the Test arena and as captains, notably Peter O’Mahony who skippered the 2017 Lions in their first Test, but with an eye on the 2023 World Cup, the consensus is that there is no one better suited for this role than Ryan. 

Saturday will be a baptism of fire for the second row, with Ireland hoping to arrest a three-match losing streak against England and take control of their Nations Cup group. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Mailing List

Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.

Sign Up Now