Niall Malone backs Ulster’s Rory Best as Ireland captain

Ireland 'Head coach Joe Schmidt and Rory Best
Ireland 'Head coach Joe Schmidt and Rory Best

Ulster analyst and skills coach, Niall Malone, believes Rory Best is the obvious choice to take over the Ireland captaincy ahead of the RBS Six Nations.

Ireland boss Joe Schmidt will name a new captain to replace the retired Paul O’Connell before January 27 ahead of the Six Nations launch.

And Ulster captain Best has emerged as the favourite to take the roll ahead of Jamie Heaslip, Peter O’Mahony, Jonny Sexton and Connor Murray who are also among the front runners.

Best, who has captained Ireland before as well as the British Lions, is currently in his second spell as Ulster captain and Malone described him as a ‘special player’ during a media conference looking ahead to tomorrow European Champions Cup pool match against Saracens at Allianz Park.

“Rory is a special one-off player,” said Malone. “And we are lucky to have him here (in Ulster).

“He speaks a lot and he commands the respect of everyone in the squad and the management every time we speak.

“When he addresses the team it is not just the words, but the emotion he brings as he speaks.

“While I do not know the other candidates well I would be amazed if there is any better candidate than Rory.

“He has leadership but he also has that knack of playing well when Ulster or Ireland are not playing well.

“It’s a very obvious choice in my opinion,” added Malone.