Sexton, a former world rugby player of the year who is his country's second highest ever points scorer, fills the vacancy left by Rory Best, who retired after a World Cup in which his side were humbled by hosts Japan and dumped out by holders New Zealand.

"It's a huge honour, the biggest honour of my career to be asked to do it and I'm really looking forward to the challenges that are coming up and hopefully we can have a successful Six Nations now," the Leinster number 10 said in a statement.

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Ireland kick off their Six Nations campaign at home to Scotland on Feb. 1. (Reporting by Padraic Halpin Editing by Toby Davis)

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