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Ireland captain Rory Best back in contention for Ulster after hamstring issue


On his way back: Rory Best

On his way back: Rory Best

©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

On his way back: Rory Best

Ireland captain Rory Best will make a surprise return to Ulster action this weekend after hamstring trouble.

The 35-year-old hooker has been sidelined since damaging a hamstring in training last month, but has been named on the bench for Ulster's Champions Cup clash in La Rochelle on Sunday.

Best was rated a long shot to feature this weekend by head coach Jono Gibbes on Wednesday, but the player has fought his way into Ulster's squad for the game.

Best's return gives the 104-cap front-rower the platform to reach full match sharpness in time for Ireland's autumn Tests, that start with South Africa's visit to Dublin on November 11.

"He's still week to week," Ulster had said of Best's progress on Wednesday, quoted by the Irish Independent.

"He's had some involvement in our sessions this week but we have to see how it goes."

Best has long been praised for his hard graft in recovering from injuries in rapid time, and the long-serving Ireland hooker appears to have pulled off another impressive return here.

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt could look to Munster flanker Peter O'Mahony as a captaincy option should Best not be deemed quite ready to start against South Africa.

But the Ulster stalwart's fast return to action this weekend hands him a fine chance of slotting back into Ireland's starting front row to face the Springboks at the Aviva Stadium.

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