Best reveals joy at late Lions call

Mon, 27 May 2013 19:49
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Rory Best admits he has gone from a low ebb to one of the best moments of his career after earning a late call-up to the British and Irish Lions squad.

Ireland hooker Rory Best admits he has gone from a low ebb to one of the best moments of his career after earning a late call-up to the British and Irish Lions' squad for the tour to Australia.

Best was devastated to have been omitted from the original 37-man squad for the Australia trip when it was announced at the end of April.

The 30-year-old Ulster star was considered unfortunate to have lost out to England's Dylan Hartley for a place among the three hookers.

But just as Best was coming to terms with another hammer blow in Saturday's Pro12 Final defeat by Leinster, news filtered through that Hartley had been sent off for abusing referee Wayne Barnes in the Premiership Final earlier that afternoon.

An 11-week suspension was issued to Hartley on Sunday and Best was handed a reprieve by the Lions as he was brought into the squad as his replacement.

Best, who has been capped 67 times, had been appointed captain of Ireland's tour to North America, but instead he is now due to fly to Hong Kong with the Lions on the first leg of their tour.

"When the initial squad was announced that was as low as I've felt. We were training at Ulster at the time and more and more people on our management were avoiding eye contact with me," Best said.

"Nobody avoids you when it's good news, so I had an idea from that. It was bitterly disappointing and on that Tuesday afternoon I allowed myself to dwell on it and think deeply about the whole thing.

"But we had a few very important games coming up so it's a case of picking yourself up and dusting yourself down.

"It was obviously disappointing to lose the Final to Leinster on Saturday but yesterday I got the call to come along and join the boys.

"It's something you dream of, an absolute honour to be here. I had to pull over on to the hard shoulder to make sure I didn't veer off the road at that stage.

"When you don't make the initial squad you try to stay fit and always keep your phone by your side.

"When the call came through it was a number I didn't recognise. I don't normally answer those but for this I made an exception. It was great news.

"You don't like to dwell on other people's misfortune, but I definitely feel for Dylan and it's bitterly disappointing for him to miss out. That's sport."

AFP

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