Lion likely to lead

Lions skipper Paul O'Connell is the heavy favourite to captain Ireland in the RBS 6 Nations. [more]

Paul O'Connell

Lions skipper Paul O’Connell is the heavy favourite to captain Ireland in the RBS 6 Nations.

O’Connell, who led the Lions in South Africa two summers ago, is expected to take over from the injured Brian O’Driscoll.

Leinster centre and triple Lions tourist O’Driscoll is currently sidelined for approximately six months following shoulder surgery in mid-November.

O’Dricsoll will miss the entire 6 Nations campaign but Ireland head coach Declan Kidney has a ready-made replacement in O’Connell.

The 32-year-old second row captained Munster to Heineken Cup glory in 2008 and Magners League success in 2009 and 2011.

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O’Connell has also acted as stand-in Ireland skipper on previous occasions when O’Driscoll has been unavailable, starting with the first match of the 2004 6 Nations.

Kidney does have other leadership options available to him in the shape of veteran Ulster hooker Rory Best or even Leinster and Lions No8 Jamie Heaslip, while he could turn to Sean O’Brien or even Jonny Sexton if he intends to look solely to the future.

But handing the armband to anyone other than O’Connell would be a huge shock, with bookmakers Ladbrokes listing the giant second row as a 1/5 shot to fill O’Driscoll’s shoes.

Ireland meet for their first training camp since the World Cup when they get together at Carton House in County Kildare later today.

Kidney is expected to name his 6 Nations skipper by the time the camp comes to an end on Saturday lunchtime.

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