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Why Ireland's Grand Slam glory is simply the Best for me: Rory

 

By Jonathan Bradley

An overwhelmed Rory Best admitted that leading Ireland to the Grand Slam on Saturday was the finest moment of his stellar career.

Having skippered the mighty Irish to victories in South Africa and over New Zealand since taking the armband in 2015, Best has plenty of special days to choose from but hailed his most recent success as the pinnacle.

Ireland defeated England 24-15 at Twickenham to secure a clean sweep in the Six Nations Championship and Joe Schmidt's men became only the third Irish outfit to win the Grand Slam.

"For me personally, it's that little bit more special," said the 35-year-old Ulsterman who is one of only two men to have won two Slams with Ireland.

"Not only starting every game but captaining the side. Every kid grows up dreaming of playing for Ireland and when you do that the next thing you want to do is win something for Ireland. To win something as captain in that special green jersey, it's something that dreams are made of.

"It's up there as the biggest highlight of my career. To do it with this bunch of players and staff, it's a really tight-knit group.

"I know a lot of teams say that if they do well or win games but it's a special bunch."

Best, hailed by his former team-mate Geordan Murphy as the side's greatest ever skipper, saved his top performance in this historic campaign for the end and rolled back the years in Twickenham.

With a contract to take him all the way to the World Cup in Japan a year and a half from now, the hooker is showing no signs of slowing down yet and says he is still "greedy" for more in the twilight of his career.

"We wanted a Grand Slam and I think we'll look beyond that at a later date," he said of where this team goes now.

"But the way the younger players have come in, and not just fitted in, but their want to keep getting better. As long as they keep that mentality and the guys who are a bit more experienced keep that want to keep going forward, that's all you can ask.

"We'll not know until our next go in the green jersey but knowing the group, this is what we wanted but we'll always want more because we're competitive and we're a little bit greedy."

Ireland have Australia this summer before a November slate that includes the All Blacks and Argentina, but Best thinks that the win against England has them primed for whatever is to come next, hailing it as the best defensive showing of a never to be forgotten campaign.

"It was a really tough match," he said. "We knew we were going to have to play unbelievably well to win. We created a couple of opportunities and a couple of things that we planned.

"It was one of those days when we took quite a few of the set-plays we wanted to, but it was far from easy. It was a really, really tough Test.

"They're a quality side. Defensively it was one of our best displays. As players we felt that we probably owed Faz (defence coach Andy Farrell) one. We'd been there in bits and pieces but hadn't followed through on his plan.

"When you get to these moments it says a lot about our team. Boys stuck to the system and fronted up time and time again against powerful English carriers and we repelled them."

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