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Ulster Rugby's Rory Best: 'The Lions are something you dream of'

Best reflected today after being called into the British and Irish Lions squad for the tour of Hong Kong and Australia

Rory Best at the British & Irish Lions Press Conference, Royal Garden Hotel, Kensington, London on Monday
Rory Best at the British & Irish Lions Press Conference, Royal Garden Hotel, Kensington, London on Monday
Ulster's Rory Best stands dejected during the RaboDirect PRO12 Final at the RDS, Dublin, Ireland
Rory Best at the British & Irish Lions Press Conference, Royal Garden Hotel, Kensington, London on Monday

Ulster Rugby's Rory Best reflected on the fluctuating fortunes of professional sport as he prepared to join the British and Irish Lions' flight to Hong Kong tonight.

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On April 30 Best was devastated to have been omitted from the 37-man squad selected for the tour to Australia, experiencing the darkest moment of his career.

The 30-year-old, a respected figure among his Ireland and Ulster team-mates, was considered unfortunate to have lost out to England's Dylan Hartley for a place among the three hookers.

But just as Best was coming to terms with another hammer blow in Saturday's RaboDirect PRO12 final defeat by Leinster, news filtered through that Hartley had been sent off for abusing referee Wayne Barnes in the Aviva Premiership's equivalent earlier that afternoon.

An 11-week suspension was issued to Hartley yesterday and Best was immediately summoned by the Lions.

"When the initial squad was announced that was as low as I've felt. We were training at Ulster at the time and more and more people on our management were avoiding eye contact with me," he said.

"Nobody avoids you when it's good news, so I had an idea from that. It was bitterly disappointing and on that Tuesday afternoon I allowed myself to dwell on it and think deeply about the whole thing.

"The Lions are something you dream of, an absolute honour to be here. I had to pull over on to the hard shoulder to make sure I didn't veer off the road at that stage," he said.

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