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Six Nations: Best plans to use Dublin mauling as inspiration with World Cup looming

By Niall Crozier

Rory Best was a happy man following Ireland’s 24-8 victory in Dublin which denied England a Grand Slam — although they still ended up as Six Nations champions.

As a front row warrior, Best took particular satisfaction from the Irish performance in the darkened recesses of the scrum, a set piece in which he and his props Cian Healy and Mike Ross eclipsed their opposite numbers.

Pointing to the intensity of that front row battle — one which Ireland won with something to spare — the Ulster hooker said: “If you can win the arm wrestle up front it goes a long way towards deciding who wins the game.

“Obviously England have some very talented backs so they’re going to be able to produce things from nothing.

“But against anyone, if you can perform up front and if you can get a solid set piece platform and be intense and aggressive around the breakdown and tackle area you’re going to go a long way towards deciding the outcome of the game.

“If a team can’t get quick ball against you they’re going to struggle to get mis-matches and overlaps.”

But Best, ever the realist, was not getting carried away with Ireland's stirring finish to the Six Nations campaign.

“We’re under no illusions. We’ve done nothing — we’ve just put in a good performance that we should expect every time we play,” he said.

“”We still lost two games in the Championship which is unacceptable.”

Explaining what he felt had been different on Saturday compared to the games Ireland lost in the series, Best said: “We’ve definitely left games behind us.

“The France game we sort of treaded water shortly after half-time for a bit and we let them get a lead.

“We rallied at the end and nearly won it.

“We did something similar against Wales.

“This time, thankfully, we got ahead and we built on that.

“We just kept building and building and building and kept the pressure on.”

Whilst admitting that the Championship had been a disappointment, he added: “But when you go back 12 months (when Ireland lost the last match of the series to Scotland) it’s a lot nicer to finish on this sort of note rather than what we did 12 months ago.”

Looking ahead to what comes next, now that the 2011 Six Nations is over, Best said: “I think we’re in a very fortunate position. We have four warm-up games before we go to the World Cup.

“It has taken us four games to click to this level and we’ll not want to go back to that.

“I suppose there’s now a lot of pressure individually.

“You know you need to be there individually for the collective to click.

“We now have a feeling of where we need to be.

“Declan Kidney has talked about that over the last six weeks — that we just needed a performance so we’d know within ourselves that (a) we can do it and (b) what it feels like to do it.

“Faith and belief in our own ability is not an issue; it’s just that whole feeling of the concept that this is what it is going to take for us to do well at the World Cup.”

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