Keith Wood: Rory Best should be Ireland's Six Nations captain

Keith Wood has called on Joe Schmidt to appoint Rory Best as Ireland’s captain for the Six Nations.

But the former skipper believes Schmidt should also consider introducing an innovative two captain system — where Best is in charge for the opening 60 minutes before a second skipper takes control for the final quarter of matches.

Schmidt is expected to appoint a replacement for Paul O’Connell ahead of the Six Nations launch on January 27, with Best, Jamie Heaslip, Jonny Sexton, Conor Murray and Robbie Henshaw all mentioned as contenders.

Peter O’Mahony is another who would be in the frame were it not for the cruciate knee ligament injury suffered during the World Cup, but Wood says Ulster captain Best deserves the job.

And although Wood acknowledges the 33-year-old may not be around for the next World Cup, he believes Schmidt should still entrust him with the responsibility, with Munster captain O’Mahony his replacement.

“Best would be my pick,” said Wood. “I think he is a quality guy. A fine player. 

“I have always been blown away by his reaction to when he has played badly. 

“He has had a couple of blips in his career where he couldn’t hit a barn door [in the lineout], but his reaction has been phenomenal.

“He was Ireland’s best player in the World Cup. His play consistently has been fantastic and his leadership at Ulster has been integral to their turnaround as well. 

“We are lucky to have a variety of different guys. 

“If we were looking for one, he would be my one. If there are only a couple of years in him, why not take everything he has for a couple of years?

“That is how I would look at it and see who the guys are coming up afterwards. 

“Peter O’Mahony is a captain of note, but let’s see if we can get him back on the field first, and in the meantime you have an older head you can rely on.”

Wood’s comments on captaincy will raise eyebrows though, as the former hooker suggests having two captains — one a specialist ‘closer’ of games. 

His logic is the most pressurised calls are generally late on in tight matches. 

With the captain potentially tired after playing the full match or already substituted, he believes Schmidt should look to name a specialist who can make those game-changing calls late on with a clear head.

“I would like us to look at captaincy slightly differently,” added Wood. 

“I would like us to look at who is our captain and who is our captain to end games. 

“I would like us to see if we have a captain for the last 20 minutes.

“Two captains? Absolutely. Whoever you have, whether it is someone coming on fresh, you need [to see] the way the game has gone. 

“Those pressurised decisions in tight games in the last 20 minutes are where the biggest pressure is.”


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