Six Nations Championship
Ireland keep faith in O'Driscoll
January 27, 2009
Ireland skipper Brian O'Driscoll breaks the Namibia defence to score, Ireland v Namibia, World Cup, Chaban Delmas, September 9 2007.
Brian O'Driscoll will continue to lead Ireland in the Six Nations © Getty Images

Ireland have confirmed that Brian O'Driscoll will continue to lead the side through the 2009 Six Nations.

Centre O'Driscoll has skippered his country a record 52 times since he took the reins from hooker Keith Wood in 2004 and he has been given a vote of confidence by Ireland coach Declan Kidney.

O'Driscoll captained the side during the autumn internationals but there has been speculation in certain quarters that Munster skipper Paul O'Connell may be given the job after some inspirational performances at club level.

O'Driscoll gave up the captaincy of his province, Leinster, at the start of the season in order concentrate on his own form and fitness but has not duplicated his decision on the international stage.

"I am delighted that Brian has yet again agreed to lead the side in this year's championship," said Kidney. "He has the leadership qualities which are vital at this level and, along with those of the other team leaders in the squad, will be important for the tournament ahead."

Kidney also revealed Ireland's plans to tour North America in May. Kidney's men will play Tests against Canada on May 23 and the USA on May 30, a week before Wales take on the same opponents on May 30 and June 6 respectively. An Ireland 'A' squad will also travel to North America to take part in the Churchill Cup.

"These games straddle the Heineken Cup final and will contain players who are not involved in either that final or the Lions tour to South Africa," he said. "This plan for the year allows us to spread the net across a greater number of players and to get to know them in the best way possible.

"With a total of 14 games that the national management will be involved in this year, it serves two purposes. Firstly, it will give us the chance to work with players who may be just below the more established members of the squad in a pressure situation. Secondly, it gives them the exposure which is important for their development at the highest level."

Ireland begin their bid for the Six Nations title on February 7 when Marc Lievremont's France are the visitors to Croke Park.


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