'I'll have to tell my son that I am not part of it any more' - Irish captain Best on hardest part of retiring
Ireland rugby captain Rory Best says his retirement will be hardest on his children who will no longer be able to walk with him as he leads out the national team.
The Ulster hooker announced yesterday that he will hang up his boots after this autumn's Rugby World Cup, quitting both international and provincial rugby.
Best (36) revealed to the Irish Independent that it will be hard for his children, especially eldest son Ben, who thought his father would go on to play in the 2021 Lions tour in South Africa.
"I had to sit him down and tell him, 'You're at the age now to know: Daddy is not going to play on forever,' and he went, 'Why not?' I went, 'There will come a point when I'll become too old and either my body will let me down or my performances will let me down.'
"I knew he was looking at me thinking, 'Yeah right, wise up'.
"He doesn't want it to happen, but we have been sort of prepping him for two years now, so he kind of knows that, unfortunately, it happens, and you get on with it.
"The big shock for him will be whenever it happens because I think he thinks in his head that a lot of the stuff that we do now, we will still be able to do, things like going on to the pitch at the Kingspan.
"I don't think they are going to let some punter from the stand walk on with his kid.
"Whenever I take him to a game, and he goes, 'Can we not go on to the pitch or into the changing room?' I will have to tell him, 'No. I am not part of it any more.'
"That's when the realisation will really hit home."
Best and wife Jodie have three children together, Ben (8), Penny (6) and three-year-old Richie.
He has been capped 116 times by his country and won the Six Nations four times, including Grand Slams in 2009 and 2018.
He won the Pro12 with Ulster in 2006 and has scored 23 tries in 219 appearances for the club since his debut in 2004.
Speaking about his time with Ulster, he said: "In my 15 years at this brilliant club, I have been lucky to have met, played alongside, been coached by and supported by many great people.
"And I would like to thank every individual for all the time they have invested in me since 2004.
"I grew up supporting Ulster Rugby, have been fortunate to play and captain Ulster Rugby and now look forward to supporting Ulster Rugby in the future with my family."
Ulster operations director Bryn Cunningham said Best would be remembered as "one of the greatest legends of Ulster and Irish rugby".
For a full interview with Rory Best, read 'Line-Out' magazine, with the Irish Independent on May 3