‘I wouldn‘t want to put too much on his shoulders‘ – Schmidt cautious on prospect of James Ryan captaincy

Joe Schmidt says James Ryan has the maturity to assume the Ireland captaincy if asked, but the former coach warned against rushing the 23-year-old Leinster second-row into the role.

The appointment of a new skipper is top of Schmidt‘s successor Andy Farrell‘s in-tray ahead of his first squad gathering in two weeks‘ time, and Ryan has received plenty of public backing after his stand-out displays. Johnny Sexton is the favourite to get the gig, with Peter O‘Mahony and Ryan 5/2 with the bookies to take on the role.

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Asked about Ryan, he said: “The one thing I would just be hesitant about is that I wouldn‘t want to put too much on his shoulders.

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“He‘s got a great set of shoulders and they‘re growing all the time, as is the rest of his body. I think it would be great to let him grow into himself before giving that responsibility to him. At the same time, it can help a person grow in stature because they do assume that responsibility and James is a guy that tends to take things in his stride.

“As a very young man, he very quickly established himself as a starting player in a very competitive Irish team. So he is an impressive young man.”

Farrell will confirm his captain before the Six Nations.

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