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Sexton can teach Ryan how to be a leader: Heaslip



Leading man: Jonathan Sexton has been given nod as captain

Leading man: Jonathan Sexton has been given nod as captain

�INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Leading man: Jonathan Sexton has been given nod as captain

Jamie Heaslip spent long enough learning about what makes a good leader under the likes of Paul O'Connell and Brian O'Driscoll, so he understands the importance of biding your time before becoming Ireland captain.

Much has been said and written about head coach Andy Farrell's decision to select veteran Johnny Sexton as skipper, but - like Heaslip - James Ryan's time will come.​

Heaslip took over as captain from O'Driscoll for the 2013 Six Nations, by which stage he was 30 and had plenty of credit in the bank.​

It is still possible that Ryan will lead Ireland at the 2023 World Cup, which is no bad thing considering the obsession we have on this island about four-year cycles.​

Few in the squad would argue against Sexton leading them for the next two years before Ryan becomes an even more viable option.​

"I don't think you need the same person now," Heaslip said.​

"I'd be looking at it as a two-year plan, and for the next two years Johnny is the man. When Joey (Carbery) comes back, he'll push him, but I think the step between Johnny and everyone else in that position is too big.​

"It will close and I think it will become a headache, but Johnny's been pretty much the captain the last two years anyhow.​ He's the quarterback, he's been calling the shots, he's guiding the team around, he knows the game plan better than anyone. It's the right choice.​

"That's not taking away from James, he's a cracking young talent, a cracking athlete. Andy could have picked anyone, but it's not a bad call to have James learn off him.​

"He's not around senior rugby that long. He'll learn loads, I learned the most ever about leadership being under Paul (O'Connell).​

"So let him sit under one of the great leaders of Irish rugby."​

Heaslip also agrees with Farrell's decision to start Caelan Doris against Scotland as he "has the potential to be there for a long time".

The former Ireland No.8 did, however, warn that Leinster face a tough task to keep all of their back-rows, including Max Deegan, happy.​

"It's going to be a headache for Leinster," Heaslip added.​

"Let's say Max decides he wants to be an eight and Leinster are like, 'No, this guy (Doris) is our man' or 'We are going to keep rotating you lads'.

"Some players don't want that, and that's going to be a problem for a club like Leinster throughout their squad because they have such a production line of players coming through.

"There is not much between Caelan and Max, in my opinion. I think Max is an outstanding player as well. He has got some real athletic ability and flair. He has shown that through every age-grade that he has played.​

"Someone like Max is hungry to show what he is about. I think his versatility will be advantageous."

Belfast Telegraph