THE DECISION ON the man to lead Ireland through, and beyond, the November Tests may rest on a Tuesday morning training session.Most roads appear to be leading to the door of Paul O’Connell. The Munster lock may be bestowed the honour of once again leading his country if he proves his fitness after being held back, this week, by a calf strain.Ireland coach Joe Schmidt confirmed yesterday that all will be revealed on Tuesday… or Thursday. If O’Connell is fighting fit, he should get the nod. If he is held in reserve for the Australia and New Zealand tests, Peter O’Mahony or Rory Best may be asked to hold the fort against Samoa. Brian O’Driscoll and Jamie Heaslip, the other candidates, have trained fully all week.Gordon D’Arcy does not believe any disruption has been caused by the delay in publicly naming the man to lead the team out against a trio of southern hemisphere opponents.“There’s a good core, leadership group,” he told TheScore.ie. ”Without naming names, everybody here could be pretty sure that it will be one of five guys. Everybody up in the room realises it is going to be one of the five guys. Luke Marshall looked a natural on his Ireland debut, against Scotland, and Stuart Olding came in for his debut at inside centre over the summer. D’Arcy’s defensive contribution is his trump card but Marshall is an enticing gamble and one who, in recent weeks, hit provincial form at the right time. The elder statesman explains that direct competition between himself and Marshall has not been forthcoming this week but adds that both a training ‘very, very well’.He commented, “Watching his performances for Ulster, he’s been very good; doing all the things he’s meant to do. He’s a big, solid lad, carries the ball well and he’s been in good form for Ulster.”Like rugby? Follow TheScore.ie’s dedicated Twitter account @rugby_ie >Jonny Sexton flying back to France for Racing Metro duty Whoever it is, it’s irrelevant to everyone else as the core group is already there. That will be crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s. It doesn’t make a massive difference.”D’Arcy is happy for the debate to rage away from Ireland’s training camp while players try to impress, and learn new plays under, a new coaching ticket. The Wexford native is a 73-cap veteran and training under a coach, in Schmidt, who trusted him for just about every big game he ever lead Leinster into. And yet there are now genuine challengers for the 12 jersey.
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