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O’Connell Pays Tribute To ‘Highly Respected’ Best

O’Connell Pays Tribute To ‘Highly Respected’ Best

Paul O’Connell spoke of the high esteem in which the Ireland squad held Simon Best after it was confirmed this week that the Ulster prop would be retiring from rugby on medical grounds.

Best, who won 23 Test caps and captained Ireland against Argentina last summer, has been forced to quit the game just five months after a heart condition brought a premature end to his World Cup campaign.

When commenting on Best’s retirement on Monday, Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan spoke of how popular a figure the Poyntzpass man was and still is with his international team-mates.

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Paul O’Connell reiterated that point and explained that even if he was benched or out of the matchday 22, Best was still able to have a big influence on the Irish camp.

“Simon was very highly respected, a really good player and a really good squad man as well,” the Munster lock said.

“It’s tough sometimes when you’re not making team. You can end up having guys struggling with motivation but Simon was never like that.

“He was a very positive influence. I suppose he was captain with Ulster so he used to bring those qualities to Ireland all the time as well.

“He was a very good player, a very good guy and he’s a massive loss. Especially when there aren’t a lot of quality tighthead props around anywhere in the world at the moment, not to mention Ireland.”