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Best Closing In On Return

Best Closing In On Return

Ulster and Ireland hooker Rory Best has a positive outlook as he continues to make impressive progress with his rehabilitation of a serious neck injury, admitting that he could yet play for his province before the end of the season.

Rory Best was struck with the cruellest of blows last August when it was confirmed that ‘an underlying, chronic disc injury on his neck’ required surgery and a lengthy recovery period of ‘between nine and twelve months.’

But the Grand Slam winner is making a strong comeback, showing great patience and determination with each piece of work edging him closer to a return for province and country.

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Encouragingly, Best was out training with the Ulster squad at Newforge last week and managed some limited contact work.

The 27-year-old, speaking to the Newsletter, relayed his sense of satisfaction with the recovery he has made so far.

“I think getting onto the pitch with the lads again was the best goal of the lot so far,” he admitted.

“The wee bit of contact was good, I took some hits. I got suited up in the vest, and although there were some concerns from the coaching team, the medical team said it had to be done at some point.

“It was only five or 10 minutes, but it was good to take hits full on, boys running at you trying to knock you over, which is great.”

Yesterday at Newforge, Best underwent another check from Ireland athletic trainer and physiotherapist Brian Green and with the signs good, he is hopeful about his chances of getting back playing before the current season ends.

His quicker-than-expected recovery is putting him in line to possibly pull on the white jersey again after the upcoming RBS 6 Nations.

“I am delighted now to really see the light at the end of the tunnel, and if I can continue to progress then maybe a return after the Six Nations is a strong possibility.”

Reflecting on his journey since last August, Best agreed that the road back has not been easy at times, but he was certainly in a better place now than he was when the injury was first discovered.

“Those were dark days, ut once I got into the rehab and began to see some light at the end of the tunnel, things were not so bad.

“But it was not just hard work and effort from me. Our head strength and conditioning coach at, Jonny Davis, has also put some big hours in with me too – and you have to remember he has everyone else to look after as well.

“And there were days when everyone else was off when he and myself were in the gym working for a few hours.” 

Keeping track of his progress, the Poyntzpass man gets a four week review with consultant Niall Eames who performed the surgery.

“If Niall is happy with how things are going after the end of each four week period, then we can move on to the next process.

“But if he is not happy, then we just take our time and work through his guidelines.”