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Ryan honoured to be handed captaincy against England

Ryan honoured to be handed captaincy against England

Ryan honoured to be handed captaincy against England

James Ryan says it will be a “huge honour” for him to lead Ireland out against England after being handed the captaincy reins in the absence of Johnny Sexton.

The towering Leinster took on the responsibility half an hour into his side’s opening Autumn Nations Cup victory over Wales in Dublin after Sexton went off injured.

But Andy Farrell has now entrusted Ryan with the role from the first whistle for the trip to Twickenham on Saturday after Sexton was ruled out of the Group A contest due to the hamstring injury he sustained.

And while Ryan is looking forward to the opportunity, he was quick to highlight the amount of experience he will have around him to assist him during the game.

“It’s a huge honour for me and I’m looking forward to it,” he said.

“The great thing is I won’t be on my own, I’ll have Peter O’Mahony, Iain Henderson, Keith Earls – a huge amount of experience.

“Even when Johnny is captain we drive at the week as a collective. It’s the same this week but having Pete, Hendy and Keith will make my job easier.”

Tries from Ryan’s second-row partner Quinn Roux and debutant James Lowe fired Ireland to a winning start in Dublin, and the 24-year-old has acknowledged the role of every squad member in their success.

“It was a pity to lose Johnny so early – he led incredibly in the week and spoke in the lead-up to the game about how we needed to respond – and we were all primed for the match,” Ryan said.

“It was cool [to take over as captain], I have to say. I didn’t expect it. It was pretty humbling, but I just got on with it. I think between myself and Pete [O’Mahony], it was very much the two of us making some of the decisions.

“It’s great having guys like Pete and such a great leadership group around me. I was delighted to see Quinn Roux get over for a try and he was brilliant to play alongside.

“Ports [Andrew Porter] was unbelievable, Church [Cian Healy] was as well, and so was Ronan [Kelleher].

“We were really forward so I’m delighted with that and it’s something that we need to keep building on. Obviously, we’ll have to step up again next week against England.”

The Red Rose represent arguably Ireland’s biggest test in Group A, and the men in green will be itching to get one over Eddie Jones’ men having seen their old rivals clinch Guinness Six Nations glory ahead of them last month.

Ryan’s first appearance against England in 2018 saw Ireland claim an unforgettable Guinness Six Nations Grand Slam in London, and he believes a similarly impressive performance will be required to topple one of the world’s form teams.

He added: “They’re up there with the best sides in the world. Everything is going to need to be better next week. We were really pleased with some parts of our game against Wales, particularly the defence and set piece.

“That’s the difference at this level. To keep them try-less was really good and they’re two areas that will have to be really, really strong next week to get a result.”

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