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Rory Best: I'm proud to be Ireland's captain for the ages at 35

By Jonathan Bradley

Evergreen Rory Best is thrilled to have the confidence of Irish coach Joe Schmidt as he leads the side out against South Africa in the Aviva Stadium this evening for the first of the autumn international series (5.30pm kick-off).

Since becoming skipper in 2016, the Irish armband has been seen as a season-to-season proposition, but Ulster hooker Best revealed yesterday that Schmidt asked him to continue in the role over the summer.

"It was nice to be asked again," said Ulster's first and only Test centurion, now aged 35.

"I think when you're in that position and captaining the country you never like to assume anything, so it was good when Joe said 'we'd like you to do it again for this season'.

"It gave me the confidence that he liked what I was doing, that I was doing a good job. Look, I understand why people want to talk about my age but it's not really something I'm interested in.

"Joe asked me to captain the side again for this season and I'm very happy to do it.

"If at any time I feel I'm not playing well enough to be the captain or I feel that things are starting to let me down, you step forward and you say 'I've had enough'.

"But, I will be a long, long time retired when I eventually do it."

Best will be joined in Schmidt's starting line-up by Ulster team-mates Iain Henderson and Jacob Stockdale, while Rob Herring is on the bench.

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