A VISIBLY EMOTIONAL Rory Best — with his young family sitting at the back of the press conference — this afternoon admitted the time was right for him to call time on his decorated playing career after the World Cup later this year.
The Ulster and Ireland captain had already confirmed his intention to retire from international rugby after the global tournament, but today announced he will hang up his boots completely in November.
Best speaking at this afternoon’s press conference. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO
Best hopes to pull on the Ulster jersey again before the season is over, but an ankle injury sustained against Leinster in last month’s Champions Cup quarter-final means he is in a race against time to be fit for the Pro14 knockout tie against Connacht on Saturday 4 May.
The 36-year-old struggled to keep his emotions in check as he spoke to the media at Kingspan Stadium, even if he had come to the conclusion that it was a good time to end a decorated 15-year playing career with his native province.
“You know when the time is right, I always wanted to go out on my terms and I feel this is right for me now,” Best said. “It’s so strange being here after so many years. I feel I’m playing some good rugby but also you have to be realistic and fast forward 12 months and, do you think you’re going to be in the right place? Maybe, but there’s also a maybe not to that and that’s probably the hardest bit of it.”
Best was out of contract with the IRFU and Ulster after September’s World Cup and after much speculation over whether he would commit to playing one final season with Dan McFarland’s side, conceded today’s announcement ‘is a bit of a relief’.
With his wife, Jodie, and three young children — Ben, Richie and Penny — in attendance, the hooker continued: “It’s a difficult thing to come out and say, even coming up here, we kind of said ‘it’s not too late’. It feels like the right time, even though it doesn’t sound like it in my voice, but definitely feels like the right time.
When asked about his most memorable occasions in an Ulster jersey, Best picked out his competitive debut for the province back in 2004, while the Heineken Cup quarter-final win over Munster at Thomond Park in 2012 ranks highly.
The Craigavon native has made 219 appearances for Ulster and with 116 Ireland caps, is the province’s most-capped international, helping his country to four Six Nations titles and two Grand Slam successes.
Best, who toured with the Lions in 2013 and 2017, will lead Ireland into this year’s World Cup and will hope to bow out on the ultimate high with Joe Schmidt’s side in Japan.
Click Here: Matthjis De Ligt Jersey Sale
As for the future beyond that, he hasn’t given it much thought.