Ireland flyhalf Jonathan Sexton will captain their 35-man squad featuring five uncapped players for the upcoming Six Nations.

Sexton takes over the captaincy from centurion-hooker Rory Best, who retired from professional rugby after the 2019 World Cup.

There are five uncapped players: Ulster’s Billy Burns and Tom O’Toole and the Leinster trio Max Deegan, Caelan Doris and Ronan Kelleher.

Andy Farrell, who will be Ireland head coach for the first time since succeeding Joe Schmidt, said he is confident of Sexton’s leadership abilities.

‘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. 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.

‘At the get-together in December we challenged the players to put their hands up for selection and the coaches are really pleased with the performances in recent weeks.

‘As we progress through the Championship we will look to select sides that we believe are best suited to the task at the weekend.

‘We will keep a close eye on the provincial performances in the PRO14 not just for the players in the squad that will transition back for game minutes, but also for those players that were part of the wider selection discussions over the past few weeks.’

Ireland open their 2020 Six Nations campaign against Scotland at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday, 1 February before welcoming Wales to Dublin a week later on Saturday, 8 February.

Ireland squad for 2020 Six Nations

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).

Photo: Getty Images

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