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Tuesday 6 December 2016

All hail to our new centurion

Best to join O'Driscoll, O'Gara, O'Connell, Hayes as 'The Fifth Beatle' of Irish rugby

Ireland’s Rory Best will win his 100th cap against Australia on Saturday
Ireland’s Rory Best will win his 100th cap against Australia on Saturday

Rory Best will become a 100-cap hero for Ireland this weekend.

It couldn't happen to a nicer guy off the field, a more competitive one on it.

The Ulsterman will be comfortable in the illustrious company of Brian O'Driscoll (133 caps), Ronan O'Gara (128), Paul O'Connell (108) and John Hayes (105) in becoming 'The Fifth Beatle' of Irish rugby.

Afterall, he spent so much of his career soldiering in the trenches with the them.

The 34-year-old veteran will be wheeled out at the Captain's Run tomorrow to be offered the opportunity to reflect on his career.

Sometimes that sort of self-assessment is best left to others, especially for someone so modest.

"He'll take it and he'll rise to the occasion," said Andrew Trimble, about the prospect of playing Australia.

"But, he'll be humble enough not to make the day about him.

"He'll make it about Ireland and getting the result.

"That's what you want from a leader like that and that's why he's looked up to so much."

When asked for a comparison between Best and his predecessors Brian O'Driscoll and Paul O'Connell in how the hooker leads, Trimble had this to say.

"It's maybe a little bit in between the two. I suppose he can do it all really.

"He's got that ability to deliver what he has to say and be precise in the way that you'd want the team to be led, being precise and specific about the key messages that are delivered.

"He sets the example and sets the tone for intensity with and without the ball. He knows the game plan inside and out.

"In defence, he knows exactly what he wants to do, get off the line and he's tough and rugged and hardy."

The hooker is a hard man with a soft centre, a father and friend, a leader and lynchpin.

"Even before he was a captain he was always a guy who spoke and people listened, who commands respect," said Trimble.

"On and off the pitch, he's an example to follow for young people, young fellas and even me.

"I'm only a few years younger than him and I'm still looking up to him and I've been looking up to him for a long time.

"He's 100 per cent deserving of this accolade of becoming a centurion."

There are those who shrink from captaincy and those who grow with it.

"He's like a fine wine isn't he? At his age, he's performing unbelievably well, week-in, week-out and that's fairly impressive all right," said Trimble.

While Best is getting better, Ireland seem to be following his lead.

It would be a shame to let the air out of their tyres against Australia.

"My thinking on it is when we were in South Africa we got that big win and it was ground-breaking stuff.

"It was a first for an Irish team and we were very proud of what we accomplished.

"We didn't kick on and, ultimately, the feeling at the end of the Tour was disappointment.

"At the end of this Autumn, if we don't kick on that will be probably the same feeling.

"We can either become a side that does it every now and again or we can become a side that consistently performs and consistently beats the best teams in the world.

"That's where we want to be."

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