Ireland playmaker Johnny Sexton has been named the captain for his side's upcoming Six Nations 2020 tournament that kicks-off next month.
Sexton, who has played 88 Tests for Ireland and another six for the British and Irish Lions will take over the reins from Rory Best, who had announced his retirement from professional rugby at the end of the World Cup last year.
The 34-year-old has been sidelined with a knee injury that he sustained in December while playing for his club Leinster but is expected to be fit for the tournament opener.
“First of all it’s a massive honour to be asked to do it and I obviously got a taste for it during the World Cup for that one game and I’ve done it in patches with Ireland in-game when either Rory or Pete have gone off in previous games," said Sexton.
“It’s something that I enjoy but ultimately it’s a huge honour, the biggest honour of my career to be asked to do it and I’m really looking forward to it and looking forward to the challenges that are coming up and hopefully we can have a successful Six Nations.”
The squad also has five debutants with Leinster trio Ronan Kelleher, Caelan Doris and Max Deegan along with Ulster pair Billy Burns and Tom O’Toole while lock Devin Toner gets a recall after missing out on World Cup selection. Joey Carbery has not made sufficient recovery from a wrist injury as he misses out on selection.
Ireland will kick-start their Six Nations campaign with a clash against Scotland at Aviva Stadium in Dublin on 1st February.
Ireland Six Nations squad:
Forwards: Max Deegan, Caelan Doris, Ultan Dillane, Tadgh Furlong, Cian Healy, Dave Heffernan, Iain Henderson, Rob Herring, Ronan Kelleher, Dave Kilcoyne, Jack McGrath, Jack O'Donoghue, Peter O'Mahony, Tom O'Toole, Andrew Porter, James Ryan, CJ Stander, Devin Toner, Josh van der Flier
Backs: Will Addison, Bundee Aki, Billy Burns, Ross Byrne, Andrew Conway, John Cooney, Keith Earls, Chris Farrell, Robbie Henshaw, Dave Kearney, Jordan Larmour, Luke McGrath, Conor Murray, Garry Ringrose, Jonathan Sexton (captain), Jacob Stockdale