Johnny Sexton named Ireland captain as Andy Farrell announces Six Nations squad

Johnny Sexton is the 106th player to captain Ireland. Hannah Peters/Getty Images

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell named a 35-man squad for the Six Nations, which will be captained by flyhalf Johnny Sexton.

Sexton, who was named World Rugby player of the year in 2018, takes over the captaincy following the retirement of Rory Best after the World Cup.

"We have appointed Johnny as captain for the Six Nations Championship, you can see what it means to him and the enthusiasm he will bring to the role," Farrell said of Sexton's appointment as captain. "He has been developing as a leader for a number of years with Ireland, Leinster and the Lions and he will be a positive voice for the group."

Sexton captained the side during the team's World Cup pool stage victory over Russia, and he has described being named as the new permanent captain as the "biggest honour" of his career.

"First of all it's a massive honour to be asked to do it," Sexton said. "I obviously got a taste for it during the World Cup for that one game and I've done it in patches with Ireland in-game when either Rory or Pete [O'Mahony] have gone off in previous games.

"It's something that I enjoy but ultimately it's a huge honour, the biggest honour of my career to be asked to do it and I'm really looking forward to it and looking forward to the challenges that are coming up and hopefully we can have a successful Six Nations now."

Farrell has named five uncapped players in his first Ireland squad, with Ulster's Billy Burns and Tom O'Toole earning call-ups alongside Leinster's Max Deegan, Caelan Doris and Ronan Kelleher.

Elsewhere in Farrell's squad, lock Devin Toner comes in after missing out on selection for the World Cup, while Rob Kearney, Sean Cronin and Jack Carty have all been dropped. Jordi Murphy and Stuart McCloskey have also both failed to make the cut.

Ryan Baird, Robert Baloucoune, Harry Byrne and Will Connors are not in the full squad for the Six Nations, but will train with the squad as part of a pre-tournament training camp in Portugal.

Ireland will begin their Six Nations campaign with two home games at the Aviva Stadium, welcoming Scotland on Feb. 1 before taking on reigning champions Wales on Feb. 8.

Ireland 2020 Six Nations Squad

Forwards:

Rob Herring (Ulster), Ronan Kelleher (Leinster), Dave Heffernan (Connacht), Cian Healy (Leinster), Dave Kilcoyne (Munster), Tadhg Furlong (Leinster), Andrew Porter (Leinster), Tom O'Toole (Ulster), Jack McGrath (Ulster), James Ryan (Leinster), Iain Henderson (Ulster), Devin Toner (Leinster), Ultan Dillane (Connacht), Peter O'Mahony (Munster), Josh van der Flier (Leinster), CJ Stander (Munster), Max Deegan (Leinster), Caelan Doris (Leinster), Jack O'Donoghue (Munster)

Backs:

Conor Murray (Munster), John Cooney (Ulster), Luke McGrath (Leinster), Johnny Sexton (Leinster), Ross Byrne (Leinster), Billy Burns (Ulster), Bundee Aki (Connacht), Robbie Henshaw (Leinster), Garry Ringrose (Leinster), Chris Farrell (Munster), Jacob Stockdale (Ulster), Andrew Conway (Munster), Keith Earls (Munster), Dave Kearney (Leinster), Jordan Larmour (Leinster), Will Addison (Ulster)