Sunday 25 August 2019

Best says Hamilton horror-show will remain in the past as new generation steps up to mark

Rory Best. Sportsfile
Rory Best. Sportsfile
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Four years ago, Declan Kidney's men found the last Test of a World Cup year a step too far and capitulated in Hamilton as the All Blacks inflicted the worst defeat in Ireland's history.

Today, they play their 17th international of a 52-week season against South Africa, but Best says that there are no parallels.

"We try to forget about that," the Ulster hooker said. "That was a different era in Irish rugby.

"When you look at the circumstances around that I think, you know, to bring Paddy Wallace off a beach on a Sunday afternoon to fly halfway across the world to try to play a game, he arrived on a Wednesday to play on a Saturday against the best team in the world.

"There's so many things around that that were so much different.

"We're better prepared, there's faith put in, the like of, with Jared Payne being injured, Tiernan (O'Halloran) has trained all week and he is prepared to start.

"He gets a start that his performance deserves and there's no trying to fly someone out to fill that spot."

And Best believes the performances of some of Ireland's newcomers like O'Halloran will have made for uncomfortable viewing for the players back home.

International Rugby Newsletter

Rugby insights and commentary from our renowned journalists like Neil Francis, Will Slattery, Alan Quinlan & Cian Tracey.

"We have faith in the guys that are here and you hope that they'll deliver," he said.

"Everything suggests they will with the performances to date, provincially and the guys that have been given the opportunity so far have really stepped up.

"I'm sure there are guys sitting at home with 30, 40, 50-plus caps that are probably slightly worried and are looking at it in a favourable light that Irish rugby is a lot more competitive.

"To go back to Hamilton, probably the other thing is that they're all so young now that none of them really remember it.

"They were either playing underage rugby or maybe partying somewhere in some beach resort.

"The guys that were there, you have to unfortunately put that down to mistakes and bad preparation and that's not what this team is about."

Irish Independent

The Left Wing: The 'hell' of World Cup training camp, Ireland's half-back dilemma and All Blacks uncertainty

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport