This is the picture that says Rory Best has a great chance of making Saturday’s Rugby World Cup quarter-final against Wales.
There seemed little hope that the Ulster hooker would feature for Ireland this weekend after he sprained the RC joint in his right shoulder during the impressive victory over Italy.
But yesterday in Wellington he showed that the injury had responded well to treatment — and, having already been named in an unchanged Irish team for the celtic showdown, Best is determined to be in the starting line-up.
“The decision (on Best) could go right to the end, we'll make it when we have to make it,” said Irish coach Declan Kidney.
“I wouldn't want to tempt fate by rating Rory's chances, but he's not ruled out, which is always the first sign.
“He had a good day, which everyone was very positive about. He's making great progress and we're taking it one day at a time.”
Sean Cronin is on standby if Best fails to make it, and if Cronin is drafted into the starting line-up, Damien Varley will be promoted to the bench.
But Kidney is becoming increasingly confident that Best, who has been in terrific form during this World Cup, will be ready just in time for the crunch battle in New Zealand’s vibrant capital.