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Monday 10 December 2018

Best: Wealth of experience is vital

Ireland captain Rory Best will lead by example this evening
Ireland captain Rory Best will lead by example this evening

Ireland have been hit with the late loss of Dan Leavy to further hamper their chances of a first win over New Zealand on Irish soil.

The openside has not recovered from what coach Joe Schmidt described on Thursday as "full body soreness" and the IRFU were cagey about the exact nature of the problem at the Captain's Run yesterday.

Sean O'Brien had already been forced out with a broken arm and it means Leinster's third openside Josh van der Flier will start with Ulster's Jordi Murphy summoned forth to the bench.

It will certainly place an extra burden on the shoulders of the captain Rory Best, who is determined to lead Ireland the only way he knows.

"First and foremost, you've got to get your own game right," said the 36-year-old hooker.

"It is always something talked about that I like to lead by example.

"That's what I've done over the last couple of years when I've been captain."

It doesn't all fall across the beams of the Banbridge man. Far from it.

"When you've CJ Stander, Keith Earls, Devin Toner and Rob Kearney in the squad, these guys have a wealth of experience at this level," issued Best.

"They've won things at this level. They've won a lot of things at provincial level.

"It is about spreading the load and it is about make sure that the team playing together is what's important."

Even so, Best was willing to open up about the personal review-preview from Argentina to New Zealand.

"I hold myself to account in the lineout, regardless," he said, in relation to Ireland's mess there last week.

"We looked through it and there were a few that couldn't have been thrown any better and we still lost.

"You still feel those. That sort of shatters your thought and your game a little bit.

"It would be ridiculous for me to go, 'I didn't get any clean line-breaks. It must have been a bad game.'

"My game is about the breakdown," he added.

"It is about making sure that we get quick ball. It is about making sure that the likes of last week, (Agustin) Creevy, (Pablo) Matera, their dangerous back rowers don't get turnovers.

"Obviously, I didn't have as many big impacts on the game as I would have liked."

He is keen to change that.

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