Wednesday 22 November 2017

Springbok star Muller believes Best would be ‘smashing’ Ireland captain

Hugh Farrelly

JOHANN MULLER believes Rory Best is the man to lead Ireland into the next World Cup and says his Ulster colleague is now among the best hookers in the world.

Muller, who took over as Ulster captain from Best and is a former Springbok skipper, was hugely impressed with the Ireland No 2's performances at the World Cup and says the 29-year-old ticks all the boxes required to be Ireland captain.

"Rory would be a brilliant Ireland captain," said Muller at yesterday's Heineken Cup launch.

"Having played under him at Ulster, I know he has got great leadership qualities and knows when to take the tough decisions.

"He has got great character as well, which is probably the first thing I look for in a leadership role, and I have no doubt if he becomes the next Irish captain that he will do a smashing, smashing job.

"Rory is only 29, he can play for another five or six years and it's wonderful to see that he is hitting his true form and his potential.

"I've followed Rory for quite a bit now, both with Ulster and watching him with Ireland, and I've never seen him play this kind of rugby he's playing now. He's in the form of his life and was outstanding at the World Cup.

"Rory can compete with anyone on the world stage, which is brilliant not only for Irish rugby but also for Ulster rugby -- he is a world-class player."

Best and Stephen Ferris are expected to return to action for this weekend's Pro12 clash with Connacht at Ravenhill, while it is hoped New Zealand's World Cup-winning prop John Afoa will also be available, having been released early from his NZRU contract.

Ferris, one of Ireland's stand-out performers at the World Cup, is desperate to get back on the pitch.

"I just cannot wait to get stuck in," said Ferris. "Bring it on -- training with the squad is one thing but getting involved in a match is what you want."

Also expected to start is second-row Dan Tuohy, capped twice on Ireland's summer tour last year, a player Muller believes has a big international future with Ireland.

"Dan has great potential," said Muller. "He has everything a top lock needs at the highest level -- great at ball-carrying, in the line-out and under the high ball.

"I truly believe in the next couple of seasons he will become a fixture with Ireland."

Irish Independent

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