Six Nations

Best to skipper Ireland

2012-03-07 16:35
Rory Best (File)

Dublin - Ulster hooker Rory Best will captain Ireland in their Six Nations international against Scotland at Lansdowne Road here on Saturday.

Ireland were dealt a huge blow when tournament captain Paul O'Connell, himself leading the side in the absence of the injured Brian O'Driscoll, was ruled out of the remainder of the Six Nations with knee ligament damage suffered in last weekend's 17-17 draw away to France.

Best, who led Ireland against Canada and the USA in 2009, suffered a rib injury in Paris but was included in coach Declan Kidney's starting side unveiled here on Wednesday

"It's a great honour to be asked to captain the side. It's something you dream of doing," Best said.

"It's very unfortunate that Paul's out but I'm honoured to do the job.

"We know we'll have to be on the money against Scotland. It will be a massive challenge for our defence."

Kidney made two changes to the side that started at the Stade de France and so nearly came away with a memorable victory over the World Cup finalists.

Donnacha Ryan will start in place of fellow Munster lock O'Connell, long a mainstay of Ireland's second row.

Meanwhile Eoin Reddan returns at scrum-half after Conor Murray was ruled out for the final two matches of the tournament, against Scotland and England, because of a knee injury he too suffered against France.

Mike McCarthy and Tomas O'Leary come on to the bench to fill the spots vacated by Ryan and Reddan respectively.

Keith Earls (groin), Donncha O'Callaghan (ankle) and Sean O'Brien (foot) suffered setbacks against France and will be assessed during the week.

Best is set to play his 58th Test on Saturday and so equal Keith Wood's record as Ireland's most capped hooker.

Ireland, beaten by Wales first time out, are now struggling to stay in contention for this season's title.

They will be expected to defeat a Scotland side who will arrive in Dublin on the back of five straight losses even though the Scots, who named their team on Tuesday, have won two of the last three Tests between the Celtic rivals.

Teams:

Ireland: 15-Rob Kearney, 14-Tommy Bowe, 13-Keith Earls, 12-Gordon D'Arcy, 11-Andrew Trimble, 10-Jonathan Sexton, 9-Eoin Reddan, 8-Jamie Heaslip, 7-Sean O'Brien, 6-Stephen Ferris, 5-Donnacha Ryan, 4-Donncha O'Callaghan, 3-Mike Ross, 2-Rory Best (captain), 1-Cian Healy.

Substitutes: 16-Sean Cronin, 17-Tom Court, 18-Mike McCarthy, 19-Peter O'Mahony, 20-Tomas O'Leary, 21-Ronan O'Gara, 22-Fergus 

Scotland: 15-Stuart Hogg, 14-Lee Jones, 13-Nick De Luca, 12-Graeme Morrison, 11-Sean Lamont, 10-Greig Laidlaw, 9-Mike Blair, 8-David Denton, 7-Ross Rennie, 6-John Barclay, 5-Jim Hamilton, 4-Richie Gray, 3-Geoff Cross, 2-Ross Ford (captain), 1-Allan Jacobsen

Substitutes: 16-Scott Lawson, 17-Euan Murray, 18-Alastair Kellock, 19-Richie Vernon, 20-Chris Cusiter, 21-Ruaridh Jackson, 22-Max Evans.

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