Rory Best nearly quit Ireland captaincy over rape trial uproar
Ireland hooker Rory Best has opened up for the first time about how he almost quit as captain as a result of the public furore surrounding his appearance at the Belfast rape trial last year.
The Poyntzpass man was advised to appear at the trial of former team-mates Stuart Olding and Paddy Jackson, who were later acquitted of all charges, in his role as a potential character witness.
However, his appearance prompted much outrage and there was a social media campaign initiated seeking his removal as captain as Ireland embarked upon their Six Nations campaign.
"It's very difficult even if you get a feeling that one person doesn't want you there, never mind, there was obviously quite a few," Best said.
"Nobody wants to be in that position especially when you're representing an island, you want to be that figurehead, the one that everyone wants there. I did think long and hard, it was not a particularly pleasant time for anyone concerned.
"It was such a sensitive subject, it wasn't something you could talk about, nobody wanted to talk about it and rightly so, just leave it to run its course, once I saw the sort of outcry.
"There was support within that, not necessarily for what happened but for me as a captain.
"It's one of those times when you feel that the spotlight is on you and all you really want to do is crawl under a rock somewhere.
"And then when you come out, you hope that it's all gone away. That's what your instinct is.
"But then, I hope it's the kind of personality that I have, it was never going to be an option.
"I felt as long as I had the support from my peers and my coaches, it's a dream of mine to do it and I don't want to give it up."