herald

Friday 9 December 2016

Rory Best: We have Bolt's inner belief ahead of Rugby World Cup opener

Hooker Best does not want to revisit 2007

Rory Best relaxes at the Ireland press conference
Rory Best relaxes at the Ireland press conference
Rory Best tackling England captain Chris Robshaw during the friendly match at the Aviva

When Rory Best was party to the guest appearance of Usain Bolt in front of the Ireland squad, the hooker was eager to take away something for personal use.

"I would be a big fan of all sports," Best started out.

"To meet someone like that was unbelievable. He is such an iconic figure in the word of sport. There wouldn't be many people that w ould be more recognizable.

"The big thing was just that he said when he goes into championships and he feels good, he knows he's going to perform.

"It's not necessarily about how events leading into it have gone. It is about how he's feeling himself."

This came as a timely reminder of how the World Cup is a separate event. The pre-season actions are nothing more than an exercise for getting the machine in order.

Bolt had to overcome doubts about his form to gun down Justin Gatlin in the 100metres and 200metres finals at the World Championships last month.

In the same way, Ireland must trade on what they have done over the stretch of two seasons, not the last two internationals against Wales and England.

"From our point of view, we're feeling pretty good at the minute," stated Best.

"Obviously, the results over the last two games haven't went the way we wanted."

Certainty

This is where the certainty of Bolt in major championships mirrors Ireland's last two Six Nations.

"He has a lot of self-belief," he continued.

"He knows when he prepares well and is ready for the tournament he can perform."

The difference between the outlook of Usain Bolt and Best is that the former is an island when it comes to ownership whereas the latter is part of a team, answerable to many.

The Ulster man was there back in 2007 when Ireland travelled with form and returned in tatters.

Their confidence was battered by Jacques Burger's Namibia and Mamuka Gorgodze's Georgia.

"It was a strange one because even against Namibia the week before we really struggled.

"We got the bonus point reasonably late on in a game we were expected to dominate," recalled Best. "There was a lot of pressure going into that game (against Georgia) for us.

"I think we started reasonably well but we just got beaten up."

The outward expression of Ireland's internal belief under Eddie O'Sullivan came to grief with France and Argentina putting the nails into their coffin.

"With that one, there was a real expectation on the starting team that took the field," he said.

"There was probably no real expectation on the 15 who were either on the bench or sat in the stands.

"That was probably the big downfall for that squad when you look back on it," he said.

"Whenever things weren't going right for us, there weren't really tried and tested people on the bench who could come on.

"We knew there was a lot of quality there.

"But they maybe weren't trusted in the same way this squad is.

"I think it's something that, in the last two years, there's been a lot of work on, a lot of people have had game-time.

"You see a big emphasis on the bench and how much the bench has contributed to the last two Championships for us."

The proof of the pudding will be in the way Ireland deal with another fired-up underdog in Jamie Cudmore's Canada.

Promoted articles

Entertainment News