Declan Kidney names Jamie Heaslip as Ireland captain for autumn fixtures

Declan Kidney insists the time was right to appoint Leinster's Jamie Heaslip as Ireland captain for the autumn internationals

Declan Kidney names Jamie Heaslip as Ireland captain for autumn fixtures

Declan Kidney has insisted it was the right time to hand Leinster’s Jamie Heaslip the Ireland captaincy for the autumn internationals.

Heaslip’s club team-mate and permanent Irish skipper Brian O’Driscoll will miss the series due to injury, with Rory Best and Paul O’Connell also absent for the opener against South Africa.

The 28-year-old fought off competition from Jonathan Sexton for the honour, and Kidney is confident Heaslip, capped 50 times, will flourish under the extra responsibility.

“We talked with Jamie about the job and he’s shown good potential with Leinster,” Kidney said.

“Although he’d probably deny it, Jamie is the consummate professional. When he turns up for work he’s really zeroed in.

“That’s a good place to start – leading by example. He’s been part of this group for a few years now.

“There were other guys holding their hands up for the job but the time is right for Jamie.

“Who should be the next captain has been in my mind for a while. We’d been working on a new leadership group over the past year to make sure that when the day did come, it would be more of a natural progression than a shock to the system.”

Meanwhile, Heaslip, who has never lost when deputising as captain for Leinster, revealed his shock to get the call from Kidney about his appointment.

“I was getting my mate an engagement card when I got the heads up from Declan about it,” Heaslip said.

“I was in Tesco and I didn’t know what to do with myself. I felt like going out and celebrating. It felt like my first cap again.

“I received a text from (Leinster chief executive) Mick Dawson about my record, so no pressure there!

“It’s great. I rang my parents straight away and I’m humbled by the decision. I’m proud to lead this group.”

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