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The 'Humiliating' Moment Which Transformed Rory Best As A Rugby Player

The 'Humiliating' Moment Which Transformed Rory Best As A Rugby Player
By PJ Browne Updated

Rory best wins his 100th cap for Ireland against Australia today.

The Ireland captain might not have reached the landmark number were it not for a moment ten years ago which change his mindset as a rugby player.

The adjustment was ushered by what Best calls a 'humiliating' occurrence while on tour with Ireland in New Zealand in 2006.

During the second test against the All Blacks that summer, which Ireland lost 27-17, Best believed, wrongly, that he was about to be brought on as a replacement for Jerry Flannery.

However, it was not him that had been called for, but instead his namesake and Ulster teammate at the time, the flanker Neil Best.

Speaking to The Telegraph earlier this year, the hooker opened up regarding this major junction in his career.

I was told during the second Test to go down to the touchline and get ready to go. The strength and conditioning guys were there and saying, ‘Get stripped off, you are coming on’. There was still about 20 minutes to go and I was thinking ‘happy days’. I knew Jerry hadn’t been well but I stood there for 20 minutes in my shirt with my tracksuit off, ready to go. I never got on.

The final whistle blew and Niall O’Donovan [Ireland’s forwards coach] came down and said sorry to me. I was thinking he was going to say that they just couldn’t get me on. But they had asked for the wrong Best, they had meant Neil Best [the Ireland flanker]. It was pretty humiliating.

The moment incited an urge in Best to change his approach to the game and become a better player. Out went post-game beers and in came a new diet which remoulded him as a presence on the pitch.

It was decision time for me and I decided to put a lot more emphasis on my fitness. I refocused what I thought about alcohol and sport. I still enjoy [a beer] but it is definitely a lot less than it used to be. That summer was the moment when I felt I was not going to make it unless I changed my approach.

I am not the quickest on the pitch, and I am definitely not the strongest, so I had to be better in an area than anyone else and that was when I decided to try to be fitter than everyone else.

Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

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