Saturday 24 February 2018

Rory Best: Winning 100 caps will be one of my greatest achievements

Ireland captain Rory Best, left, and defence coach Andy Farrell during a press conference at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Ireland captain Rory Best, left, and defence coach Andy Farrell during a press conference at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Rory Best has admitted that when he looks back on his career, tomorrow’s milestone of winning his 100th cap for Ireland will be “one of, if not his best achievement.”

The Ireland captain is set to join an illustrious group of players. Brian O’Driscoll, Ronan O’Gara, John Hayes and most recently Paul O’Connell have all worn the green jersey over 100 times.

Best (34) made his Ireland debut against New Zealand at Lansdowne Road in November 2005 and has gone on to become one of the most influential leaders within the squad.

“No, I think it would be safe enough to say that I didn’t,” he smiled when asked if he ever felt like he would reach this milestone.

“I still remember the first cap. It doesn’t seem that long ago. When you get your first cap for Ireland, it’s like a dream come true and all you want to do is the next one so you don’t stay on that one cap.

“After that, every time you get picked, you feel unbelievably lucky. You tick quite close to 50 and you go ‘Can you imagine getting to 50?’ But now to be on the verge of 100 caps, it is quite hard to believe.”

Best has been one of the most consistent performers for Ireland since Joe Schmidt took over as head coach and the Ulster player was the natural successor as captain after O’Connell.

He led Ireland in the Six Nations earlier this year and also became the first Irish captain to beat the All Blacks and also to beat the Springboks on South African soil.

“I think it will probably be more important whenever I eventually do retire, which will hopefully be a while,” Best maintained.

“You sit back and you look at everything you’ve achieved. Obviously what these milestones do is that they show the amount of support that is out there. Not just for me personally but the whole Irish team.

“The amount of support we got after the Chicago game and now the last 24 hours since the squad announcement. The amount of well wishes you got, social media, text messages. It just brings it home to you that there is a lot of support for us out there and a lot of people who really, really want us to do well.

“When I do look back, this will rank up there as one of, if not the best achievement."

Best has propelled himself back into the Lions frame for next summer and although he is refusing to get caught up in that kind of talk, he did admit that he felt that he was playing as good as ever.

“Look, I feel that I am playing well,” he added.

“I think there is a lot made about it whenever you turn 30. Everyone says that you’re done but for me, age is just a number.

“When you’ve never been overly fast and you lose a little bit of pace when you get a bit older, it doesn’t really matter. You hopefully make it up in your head.

“I don’t see that I’m playing any worse than I ever did so look, I feel fit. I feel happy with my game and the big thing for me is that I’m really enjoying it.”

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