Peter O'Mahony is the perfect candidate to captain Ireland for the next two years, before the focus switches back to the next World Cup, according to The Independent's Cian Tracey.
Ireland are in need of a new leader after talismanic captain Johnny Sexton bowed out at the World Cup in France this year. However, with a few candidates already being given auditions by Andy Farrell in the last 12 months, the shortlist seems to have been firmly narrowed down to just one option.
Munster's captain Peter O'Mahony has been singled out by many in the last month as the natural successor to Sexton. He is well respected both on and off the field by teammates, referees and opponents alike, and can carry a team on his back when the going gets tough.
However, there currently is a question mark surrounding how far in this World Cup cycle O'Mahony's body can take him. Very few believe that he has another World Cup in him, as he will be 38 by the time Australia comes around.
For Tracey, though, there is no issue with naming O'Mahony captain for the next two years, before finding the 2027 World Cup captain in 2025.
Will O'Mahony still be playing for Ireland?
Speaking on Wednesday Night Rugby, Tracey discussed O'Mahony's future, which was left rather open after Ireland's quarter final loss to New Zealand a month ago.
"The first thing is they need to make sure Peter O'Mahony is actually playing on," Tracey said. "In the mixed zone after the quarter final defeat, he kind of left it open.
"Obviously, it was very raw. I'd be very surprised if he doesn't stay on. Peter O'Mahony turned 34 at the World Cup, he'll be 38 at the next World Cup."
While outgoing Ireland captain Sexton played his final World Cup at the age of 38, Tracey feels this is an exception, rather than a standard.
"I don't know how many guys will look at Johnny Sexton and say, 'Oh, he played at 38 and was still playing to a high level', but Peter O'Mahony's body has been through a lot!" Tracey stressed.
"Also, Johnny Sexton was clearly a freak in terms of getting to the World Cup. So, they need to decide if Peter O'Mahony is going to be playing on."
Forget about the 'four year cycle'
In spite of O'Mahony likely not being able to make the next World Cup, Tracey does not believe making him captain will have a detrimental effect on Ireland's preparations for 2027.
"Do they try and get a captain for two years?" Tracey questioned. "It's been shown once again that the World Cup cycle is two years, I think, at most.
"That was shown in the previous World Cup in South Africa when Rassie Erasmus came in so late. South Africa weren't exactly shooting the lights out in the four year either, but come the World Cup they peaked at the right time.
"I think we need to, as Irish people, need to get away from this four year cycle talk. So, I wouldn't see any issue at all with Peter O'Mahony being the Ireland captain for the next two years, and then switching."
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