Rory Best has outlined why he felt it easier to adjust to life as captain of Ireland than when he took over the mantle at his native Ulster.
The 124-time capped international took over from his brother Simon as Ulster captain prior to the 2007/08 season and had been captain of the provincial side for eight years before Joe Schmidt made him Irish captain in 2016.
Best was just 25 when he took over the role at Ulster and appearing on BT Sport’s Rugby Today, he outlined that this made life difficult adjusting to a new leadership role in a dressing room full of players the same age.
The two-time Grand Slam winner reflected outlining that by the time he was asked to captain Ireland, he knew he was ready for the job.
“I found it more of a change in Ulster, because I was quite young when I took over, and there is a bit more of responsibility to conduct yourself in a certain way,” explained Best.
Amazing moment as Rory Best brings his kids onto the pitch after his last match in an @irishrugby shirt.
A legend of the game, who gave it all for the jersey.
Thanks for the memories Rory 🙌 pic.twitter.com/1rKuLdOPkM
— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) October 19, 2019
“You are in between the coaching staff and the players and that was really difficult.
“A lot of the guys who were in and around my age, would play a game and then go out for the weekend and then come back in having not given it a second thought, whereas I felt there was a bit more of a responsibility on me to have thought a little more and to have planned and the balance was difficult.
“Whereas with Ireland, by the time I captained, I was a little bit older, and that’s where I was in my headspace anyway so my relationship with people in the Ireland squad didn’t change, if anything it potentially got better with some of the senior players because I knew to rely on them and they thrived with the responsibility.”
Having worked with a plethora of iconic captains including Brian O’Driscoll, Paul O’Connell, Sam Warburton and Alun Wyn Jones, Best described how each person deals with responsibility ultimately depends on the personality of the player.
“You get the guys that are inspirational by what they say, they guys who are inspirations by what they do and some people across both.”
“You also get other captains who are a bit quieter, almost shy and reserved but that in turn allows other people the room and the breathing space to express themselves.
What a career in Ulster colours! 🔴⚪️
🎬 We spoke to Rory Best following his last game for Ulster! pic.twitter.com/dP8gAg5ksW
— Ulster Rugby (at 🏡) (@UlsterRugby) May 18, 2019
“But the biggest thing is you’ve got to be yourself.”
Asked whether he fell into the category of a shouter or a thinker, Best replied:
“Somewhere in the middle.
Nothing to see here…
Just Rory Best absolutely nailing a conversion kick on his left peg while playing for the Baa-Baas vs Brazil 😂
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) November 21, 2019
“I like to think I thought a lot about what I was going to say, I thought a lot about the game and rugby and I like to be composed but of course there are certain moments when you need to raise your voice and shout.”
“I remember once we were away with Ulster and we were staring down the barrel of losing with a bonus point at half time and eventually I just lost it.
“And at times it just gets to the point where enough is enough and you can’t mollycoddle and skirt around the issue.
“Ultimately you’ve got to be able to read situations – and then the biggest thing is you’ve got to be able to manage players, to know that some people respond better to a bit of in your face shouting, and some respond better to an arm around the shoulder and that takes time and a lot of practice.
“That’s also why with better captains, you just see them get better and better with age.”