Rory Best: Ulster skipper would love to be Ireland's next captain
Ulster captain Rory Best says he would love the chance to take over from Paul O'Connell as Ireland skipper.
O'Connell, who led Ireland at the World Cup, retired from international rugby this year after the tournament.
Best, 33, is a candidate to succeed him although back row Jamie Heaslip could be favourite having deputised against Argentina when O'Connell was injured.
"Paul O'Connell is a talismanic leader and to follow him would be a massive honour," hooker Best said.
"There is a group Joe will choose from and whoever does take over will have a massive task.
"To work alongside Joe Schmidt in a coach-captain relationship would be great."
"After the World Cup people have said there is a big gap between the northern and southern hemisphere nations, but you have to consider the injuries the northern hemisphere sides had," said Best, who has won 89 Ireland caps and made 173 appearances for Ulster.
"These games are important because we need to be testing ourselves against the top teams."
On his new Ulster and Ireland deal, he added: "After a World Cup you are not sure how they will be thinking. Will they bring in the new guns and prepare for the next World Cup?
"They must have thought there is some life in me yet, which is great."