Biting back: Best's return as captain is no surprise
Rory Best's restoration as Ulster captain came as no real surprise. Having handed the reins to Johann Muller for the past three seasons, he was the obvious choice to take over once more from the now-retired South African.
Best – who will celebrate his 32nd birthday on August 15 – is vastly experienced. With 77 caps to his credit, he is Ireland's most capped hooker of all time. To that record add 152 appearances for his native province.
He has captained Ireland in four Tests and led Ulster from 2007 to 2011. So, a time-served leader – gifted, brave, committed and a model professional on and off the pitch.
He made no attempt to play down what it means to him, saying: "It is nice to have been asked to do it again. With the extra experience I have gained at provincial and international level in recent years I believe I am more equipped than ever before to lead the team."
When Muller retired at the end of last season, David Humphreys and Mark Anscombe sounded Best out while they were in tandem as Ulster's director of rugby and head coach respectively.
When both departed in June, Best – typically – contacted in-coming coach Les Kiss and offered to step down. Kiss was more than happy to endorse the Humphreys/Anscombe view.
One thing concerns me, however. Come November, when Ulster's captain and coach will be on Ireland duty who will offer the leadership, given that all of those who have deputised in the recent past – Chris Henry, Dan Tuohy, Robbie Diack and Jared Payne – will hope to be at the Irish camp, too?