SIMPLY THE BEST
Tuesday, 8 November 2016
POYNTZPASS man Rory Best booked a special place in Irish rugby history by captaining the men in green to a famous first ever victory over world champions New Zealand in Chicago on Saturday.
Ireland had waited 111 years to break their duck against the mighty All Blacks at what was the 29th attempt and did so with a simply superb performance full of ferocious commitment, exceptional cohesion and fantastic character.
Best's side played with wonderful ambition backed up by a compelling mix of accuracy, aggression and sustained intenstiy for the full 80 minutes as they ran in five tries at Soldier Field, becoming only the fifth team in history to put 40 points on New Zealand.
What made the 40-29 result all the more remarkable was the fact this All Blacks side had been on a record run of success with 18 successive victories in Tests dating back to before last autumn's triumphant World Cup campaign.
Understandably delighted by his team's historic, convincing victory, he helped put it in context afterwards by paying tribute to the quality of opposition.
“We've created history here by going and attacking New Zealand and I couldn't be prouder of our performance. This has been a long time coming and I'd like to thank everyone who has been part of this journey," said Best.
“The fact this means so much to us is testament to how good New Zealand are and we're delighted to have achieved this against such a quality team who have been on a great run in the past year."
Few would have predicted that this would finally be the time that Ireland - missing Peter O'Mahony, Sean O'Brien, Ian Henderson and Keith Earls due to injury or suspension - made their historic breakthrough, but on the day it was a thoroughly deserved victory.
Having followed worldwide legends Brian O'Driscoll and Paul O'Connell as Ireland captain, Best has now led the men in green to first ever victories in South Africa this summer and now against New Zealand anywhere.
The 34-year-old is set to become Ireland's fifth most capped player of all time when he leads the team out for what will be a mouth-watering rematch at Dublin's Aviva Stadium on Saturday week.
If he comes through unscathed, the remarkable Best will win his 100th cap against Australia the following weekend and has surely put himself firmly in the frame for next summer's British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand.
Already by far the most capped Ulsterman of all time and most capped Irish hooker ever, Rory always leads by fearless, tireless example and is greatly respected in the international game.
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