Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Rory Best: My Lions pain

If Rory Best is not included in next summer's British and Irish Lions squad touring Australia, there should be a public outcry of such epic proportions that Ulster rugby fans will walk en mass to Belfast City Hall and demand an explanation.

Best himself will take whatever decision comes in his stride.

He has been down a difficult road where the Lions are concerned having been snubbed, not once, but twice for the Lions tour of South Africa in 2009 when many felt he ought to have been a first choice on the plane.

“Growing up I used to watch the Lions in the late 80s and early 90s and going on tour with them at one stage was the big goal for me,” says Rory.

“When the original squad was named and I didn't make it I admit I was disappointed. I came off the training pitch and David Humphreys told me I didn't make it in front of everyone. It is the most horrendous way to find out. You try and say you weren’t expecting to be in anyway but inside it was hard to take.

“I had just about got over it and went on to captain Ireland in north America when the Lions were on tour. Then Jerry Flannery got injured and everyone was texting me saying they'd heard rumours I was on a plane on my way out to join the tour. I wasn't. Not getting the call the second time was like being stabbed in the heart.

“My wife Jodie lived a lot of it with me. We were due to get married that summer and she had seen the highs and lows, so after that we agreed in the future if it happens, it happens.

“That was part of the reason why I decided just to enjoy playing for Ulster and Ireland in the here and now. If it's enough to get on a plane somewhere else then brilliant. I won't build up my hopes because it's hard to put into words how disappointed I was twice not to get called in.”