Jamie Heaslip retains Ireland captaincy for Six Nations tournament
Jamie Heaslip has been confirmed as Ireland's captain for the RBS Six Nations which starts next month.
Last Updated: 17/01/13 11:08am
Heaslip was named in a 39-man training squad on Thursday that will see Ireland through a Wolfhounds clash with the England Saxons on 25 January and the opening game of the tournament against Wales.
The No 8 took charge against South Africa in the absence of Brian O'Driscoll, and coach Declan Kidney has opted for consistency, to the disappointment of the centre.
Kidney said: "Jamie had done a really good job for the squad and management during November and I felt that now was the correct time to do this.
"Brian has had very little rugby in the last number of months and I think he deserves the space and time to concentrate on getting himself back playing fully fit.
"We need Brian the player just as much as we need Brian the captain and typical of the man and the selfless way he has contributed to Irish Rugby and the Ireland team, he has said that the captain and the team would have his full support."
O'Driscoll added: "The captaincy has been a big part of my career and life over the last number of years, and while I was naturally very disappointed not to be leading the team in the Six Nations, when I talked it through with Declan I accepted the reasons behind the decision."
Kidney's squad, which includes six uncapped players, will be further added to after this weekend's European games with a separate Wolfhounds squad being selected next week - after that game a smaller squad will be selected to take on Wales.
Six players are unavailable to Kidney because of injury; Tommy Bowe, Stephen Ferris, Luke Marshall, John Muldoon, Paul O'Connell and Dan Tuohy.
It was also revealed that Munster assistant coach Anthony Foley and Leinster's Greg Feek will be part of the Wolfhounds coaching team and continue to work with Ireland throughout the Six Nations.
Ireland: Bent (Leinster), Best (Ulster), Boss (Leinster), Cave (Ulster), Court (Ulster), Cronin (Leinster), D'Arcy (Leinster), Earls (Munster), Fitzgerald (Leinster), Fitzpatrick (Ulster), Gilroy (Ulster), Healy (Leinster), Heaslip (Leinster, capt), Henderson (Ulster), Henry (Ulster), Henshaw (Connacht), Jackson (Ulster), Kearney (Leinster), Kilcoyne (Munster), Madigan (Leinster), Marshall (Ulster), Murray (Munster), McCarthy (Connacht), McFadden (Leinster), McSharry (Connacht), O'Brien (Leinster), O'Callaghan (Munster), O'Driscoll (Leinster), O'Gara (Munster), O'Mahony (Munster), Reddan (Leinster), Ross (Leinster), Ryan (Munster), Sexton (Leinster), Stevenson (Ulster), Strauss (Leinster), Toner (Leinster), Trimble (Ulster), Zebo (Munster)