...Rory Best (left) alongside his brother Simon Best...
Ulster hooker Rory Best will make his first start for Ireland tomorrow. IrishRugby.ie profiles the 24-year-old who, two years ago, was watching Ireland take on South Africa as a student in the stands.
RORY BEST (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster):
Born: August 15, 1982
Height: 180cm/5ft 11in
Weight: 105kg/16st 7lbs
Ulster Caps: 38; Points: 15 (3 tries)
Ireland Caps: 4 (v New Zealand (sub), Australia (2 (sub, sub)), Wales (sub)); Points: 0
- Is in his third season with Ulster. Has played 38 times for the province, scoring three tries including one against Biarritz in last season's Heineken Cup. He stepped in to captain Ulster against Edinburgh in September when both his brother Simon and Justin Harrison were unavailable
- His four Ireland caps to date have all been as a replacement and have only totalled 21 minutes of game-time - he has been an unused replacement for Ireland on six occasions in the past twelve months, against Italy, France, Scotland, England New Zealand (2)
- Educated at Portadown College, the University of Newcastle and Queen's University Belfast (BSc Agriculture), he is attached to the Belfast Harlequins club. Came on as a replacement for Harlequins in the 2004/5 AIB League Division One final which they lost 25-20 to Shannon
- He played twice previously against South Africa at Under-21 level, and was a member of the Irish squad at the 2003 IRB U-21 World Cup
- Is a younger brother of Ireland-capped prop Simon Best (28). Simon skippered Ulster to a Celtic League title last season and will lead Ireland 'A' out against Australia 'A' at Thomond Park on Wednesday
...Best in action against Australia last June...
BEST - QUOTES:
"This will be my first start and I want to lay down a marker with Frankie (Sheahan) coming back and Jerry (Flannery) coming back soon. I need to go out and perform.
"Chances to play for your country can be few and far between and I won't be holding anything back. I don't want to have any regrets, that's the mindset I will be taking. You never know if you're ever going to get the chance again.
"(With Ulster's lineout) Justin Harrison came in a year-and-a-half ago and really revamped the whole thing. He's a brilliant jumper.
"So are Matt McCullough, Neil Best and Roger Wilson. We are lucky to have four lineout options.
"(In the Irish set-up) Paul O'Connell isn't bad, is he? Donncha (O'Callaghan) is very good too, and Neil Best, Denis Leamy and David Wallace give us further lineout options. At this stage, for me it's all about getting to know the jumpers, like the Munster boys' triggers.
"It will be strange (not having my brother Simon in the squad) but I know he is coming down to be at the game and offer his support. He's phoned me to wish me good luck."
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