Tuesday 24 January 2017

'We put the Munster lads on the front line' - Rory Best explains emotional pre-match tribute to Anthony Foley

Published 06/11/2016 | 02:30

Ireland’s captain Rory Best celebrates last night’s historic victory over New Zealand. Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images
Ireland’s captain Rory Best celebrates last night’s historic victory over New Zealand. Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images

Rory Best has explained the thinking behind Ireland's touching tribute to Anthony Foley before their historic victory over New Zealand at Soldier Field.

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The Ireland captain and his team-mates formed a figure of eight during the All Blacks' Haka, putting the Munster players to the fore as a mark of respect to the recently departed former back-row who won 62-caps for his country and passed away three weeks' ago.

Ireland beat the world champions followed the tribute with an outstanding performance at Chicago.

"I think it was something that we just talked about through the management to the players," the Ulster skipper, who played with Foley, said.

Ireland team face the Haka in a shape of eight in memory of Anthony Foley of Munster
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland
Ireland team face the Haka in a shape of eight in memory of Anthony Foley of Munster Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

"A lots been made of the really sad news that Munster got a few weeks ago and this was the national team’s first time together since his passing so we felt that it was the right thing to do and then to put the Munster body to the front that.

"It just felt like the right thing to do and it was our way, as an Irish national team, just to show a mark of respect to Axel and his family

"Obviously, there was a lot of emotion and the Munster boys got a lot from that. It was just an emotionally-charged day for us. Ultimately, we did a lot of our work earlier in the week so we could draw on a bit of that emotion."

Best said it was important that the Irish players enjoyed their moment in the sun at Soldier Field.

"You’ve got to take a moment every time you make history," he said.

"Knowing Joe (Schmidt), it will probably be a brief moment. It is a massive thing for us and it’s a massive mark of the respect to the All Blacks because it means so much to us because they are such a quality side and they've shown it."

Schmidt heaped praise on his players for their performance in the 40-29 win.

"I really thought the players did themselves proud," he said.

"To be fair, they did Axel proud and his family and they did their country proud. I think the supporters did well as well. The longer the game went, the more they got behind the team."

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