Sexton favourite to lead Ireland

Flyhalf Jonathan Sexton is likely to captain Ireland when they host the Springboks in Dublin next week.

According to reports in Ireland, Sexton and No 8 Jamie Heaslip are the prime candidates. Regular skipper Brian O’Driscoll has been ruled out with injury, while veteran Paul O’Connell is also unavailable.

Coach Declan Kidney believes the new skipper must be a leader in every sense. While he did not confirm who will captain the team next Saturday, he spoke of qualities that both Sexton and Heaslip possess.

‘I think what you always want is a player that the other players will respect, on and off the pitch,’ Kidney told the Irish Independent. ‘A player that they will listen to, that has a good tactical appreciation of what’s needed out on the pitch. Usually the captain has to have a relationship with the referee. So there’s quite a number of things.’

Meanwhile, Keith Earls is expected to replace O’Driscoll at outside centre. Felix Jones is set to step in at fullback given Rob Kearney is unavailable due to injury.