Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Rory Best World Cup diary: Just relieved to still be at the World Cup

Thursday, September 13 Training this morning went well. We did a lot of scrummaging and there was an edge about us.

Then it was straight back to the hotel to get into the number ones and head off to an official ceremony to get our World Cup caps. The Canadian squad were there too and to be honest it was an absolute nightmare. Five or six people made speeches and they all had to be translated into French or English. We had to stand for about two hours having had nothing to eat since training and a few of the boys were stiff and sore from training.

It was great to eventually get my cap but it turned out they had given us the wrong ones. We had been given the Canadian ones but we all swapped afterwards. It was a relief to get out of there.

A quiet night. Jerry Flannery, our cinema specialist, had organised a trip to an English cinema but the shows were too late so nobody went, which was handy for him.


Friday, September 14

Up at about 11.30am for a big breakfast. After beating Leamy on the computer again and another sleep, we had the captain's run and then captain's meeting.

Brian told us that as a group of players we were too good not to be performing on a stage like this. He said this time it wouldn't be about trying to get a score, it would be about performance, keeping the ball. He said we couldn't just flick the switch against France, it was time to start showing what we could do now.

After food and watching the England v South Africa game back our room, Denis and I watched four episodes of a series called 'The Unit' which is about an American special forces unit. It was a late night, which is normal because we want to sleep in to cut down the waiting time for kick-off on Saturday.


Saturday, September 15

Game day. Everyone was in the zone but we were more relaxed than I thought we would be. Eddie had our heads right having talked it through with us during the week.

We started well and I was lucky enough to get on the end of the first try. I knew the maul was well-set and it was just about hanging on to the ball after that. It was good to score my third Test try - three more than Leamy!

But the mistakes began to creep in again and we switched off when Wally got sent to the sin bin. They then got the intercept try just as we looked to have a try on. The luck isn't with us.

After making a tackle, I looked down to see an indentation where my thumb should have been. Thankfully it clicked back into place but it was too bad to continue.

Girvan scores a good try to put us in front again but the next score didn't come and the team became more and more nervous. It was tough to watch. Our World Cup was in the balance but we dug deep to hold on.

Eddie told us we would get a lot of stick for the performance but that we were going in the right way and had shown great belief to defend the line the way we did.

Afterwards, I was rushed to a private hospital to have the thumb scanned and the look on the French doctor's face told me everything. They put a cast on and it but they want to do an MRI scan tomorrow. My girlfriend Jodie tries to keep my spirits up and I'm upbeat in front of the players but inside I'm gutted. Can't help thinking I am going home. A sleepless night.


Sunday, September 16

Met Mum and Dad in the hotel across the road from us for breakfast and then got the call to go for the scan.

The X-ray had shown something but Gary O'Driscoll our doctor wanted to make sure there was no ligament damage. The cast was cut off and I lay in the MRI scan. Thankfully it was open-ended and I'm too claustrophobic anyway. The doctor kept telling me not to move an inch and I actually kept falling asleep as I hadn't slept last night!

There is a crack to the bone but no other damage. Gary says I'll be out for two weeks but there is a good chance I would be fit for a quarter-final if we make it. It's up to Eddie now.

They strap my hand in a harness, which allows me to take it off to treat the injury with ice to reduce the swelling and when I got back to the hotel, I walked into the team room as Gary and Eddie were discussing the injury.

Eddie called me over. I couldn't help fearing the worst but he told me he was willing to keep me on and give me a shot at recovering in time. While I am still gutted to be missing the French and Argentina games, I am massively relieved to be staying on.


Monday, September 17

If the World Cup had been in Australia, New Zealand or South Africa, I probably would have been sent home. But as we have three hookers in the squad and it is easy enough to get cover out at short notice, Eddie is happy for me to stay.

The only problem will be if there is another injury to either Jerry or Frankie. This is Frankie's second World Cup and the first time he will be on the bench, which is nice for him. Injuries always mean a door opens for someone else and I have benefited from it in the past and good luck to him.

Still, when the team was announced today it really hit home again that I wouldn't be playing on Friday. Watching the forwards do their line-outs was also tough. I kept thinking 'I want to be out there.'


Tuesday, September 18

There is no point getting down about my injury. It isn't going to help the healing. There is nothing I can do apart from treat it with ice every hour while our physio Cameron Steele has also put some special Japanese tape on my arm to help get rid of the swelling. I'll give anything a go to get back.

Despite having my hand strapped up, I am still able to do some training. Did some lower body weights and power weights on my good arm with Mike McGurn. Hope I won't be running in circles when the harness comes off!

I also did some speed work and running later. But I am separate from the match 22 now and there is no point me hanging about them and getting in their way.


Wednesday, September 19

We headed for Paris today, taking the TGV from Bordeaux. A very relaxing way to travel. The journey was just over three hours and the mood is good.

My brother Mark called me and said that even though I'm not in the Ireland team, I can still be in his team! Mark is travelling over from London for the match with a few mates and it will be nice to see him and catch up.

The pressure is on us but I have no doubt that the boys will front up against France on Friday night. I know the team will do everything that is asked of them and more.

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