Paul O'Connell to captain Ireland for Six Nations

Paul O'Connell of Ireland
Paul O'Connell takes over as Irish skipper for the Six Nations

Lions skipper Paul O'Connell will lead Ireland for the 2012 Six Nations campaign as regular skipper Brian O'Driscoll is out injured.

Centre O'Driscoll will miss the entire championship as he recovers from a shoulder operation.

Limerick-born lock O'Connell, 32, led the British and Irish Lions on their tour to South Africa in 2009.

Ireland's first match is against Wales at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Sunday 5 February.

After that, Declan Kidney's men face France in Paris, then host Italy and Scotland before finishing the tournament with a St Patrick's Day clash against England at Twickenham.

The Ireland squad's preparations for the championship started on Friday with a two-day training camp near Dublin.

Current Munster captain O'Connell has led his country in the past - against France in 2004, and also when Ireland played England during their World Cup warm-up series four months ago.

"To captain Ireland is a huge honour for me and I was delighted when Declan asked me to," said O'Connell.

"We are lucky in the Ireland squad that we have a couple of outstanding leaders across the pitch, and I know that I will be relying on them during the championship."

"It was good to come back together for the first time since the World Cup, and I am now just looking forward to February and to the challenge of the championship."