Home Rugby Rory Best Postponing Emotion Of Home Farewell As Wales Test Looms

Rory Best Postponing Emotion Of Home Farewell As Wales Test Looms

He may not want to dwell on it before the game, but Saturday’s encounter with Wales will mark Rory Best’s final game at Lansdowne Road after 14 years. 

The Ulster talisman made his Ireland debut in the old stadium when he came off the bench against the All-Blacks in November 2005.

Since then, he has seen the best, and the worst, of Irish rugby unfolding on home soil. From the haunting 60-0 loss to New Zealand back in 2012 to the iconic victory over the world champions late last year.

On Saturday, he will bid farewell to the stadium in front of an expected sizeable crowd. Despite his longstanding career, Best probably still feels like he has something to prove to that Irish crowd following their performance against England last month and perhaps that is why he is keeping his focus solely on matters on the pitch.

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“For me, it’s making sure we focus on this next game. When it gets to it and probably after the game, the realisation of the last game at the Aviva will hit home properly. It’s important for me and the team that it doesn’t affect preparation.

“Yeah, look, it will be a really big occasion when I look back upon it and I’m sure my family will feel it a lot more than I do in the build-up to the game but ultimately, it’s about making sure that as a team, we perform as a team.

“That we take a massive step forward and we put ourselves in the best possible position we can to get on the flight on Wednesday to go to Japan. Ultimately, Scotland then becomes the next target.”

 Best might not yet feel emotional about the occasion but that is not to say that his long-time supporters aren’t feeling the end of the era. 

“It wasn’t really until I walked off the pitch today.

“There’s a few of the same faces that greet us coming off the training pitch and one woman, in particular, she was in tears saying it was the last time I’d walk off the Carton House pitch.”

For players too, it must be a strange sensation to be walking into the final weeks with a player whom you have soldiered with for years as well as being their leader and guide.

Rob Kearney was quick to praise the lengthy career of his captain but echoed his sentiments about remaining focused on the Welsh test.

“Sometimes I think it gets a bit undervalued, his win rate and what he has achieved. Some of the momentum victories we’ve had as a team have been under Rory. He’s a brilliant leader, he’s the glue that brings the team together a lot.

“Again, he’s a guy who is training really well and I’m sure he’s very excited to get out there and demonstrate that he’s still hugely capable of producing big performances, even at his ripe old age.

“It’s very important but it’s not at the forefront of our mind. Performance is huge for us this week and even if you scale back the performance, it’s putting it into blocks. The first 10 minutes, the second 10 minutes. If we can look after all those mini blocks and win all those moments, the performance and victory will look after itself.

“And then you get to enjoy and feel proud of giving Joe and Rory the big send-off.” 

 

About Marisa Kennedy

Marisa is a Digital Journalist with Pundit Arena. She is a former reporter with Sporting Limerick and is a huge fan of the GAA. You can contact her at marisa@punditarena.com or on Twitter