Rory Best knows a thing or two about forward battles. Whether for Ulster, Ireland or the British & Irish Lions, he has competed against some of the biggest packs in the world and established himself as one of the best hookers playing the game today.
This Saturday Rory Best, along with the rest of the Ulster team, will line out against Saracens in a much-anticipated Heineken Cup quarter-final.
Mark McCall’s Saracens side dominated Ulster up front at the same stage of the competition twelve months ago and the Ulster pack are aiming to put that right this time around.
“Ultimately, if we don’t, we can’t win the game. If we don’t get dominance up front we are going to struggle and that is something we pride ourselves on and something that hurt so much last year was that we got beaten up so badly,” said Best.
“A lot of water has gone under the bridge. It was frustrating that we didn’t even compete, but at half six on Saturday night it won’t matter what happened twelve months ago.
“It is all about the two teams that are playing this season. They are by and large similar sides. We feel that we have come on a lot and they feel that through their experiences that they have come on too.”
Another hotly contested aspect of the game will be at the lineout. Best’s throwing in the Six Nations was superb with 70 lineouts won by Ireland and only five lost.
“You need to have a lot of confidence in your own ability as a line out unit and obviously we have massive confidence in Johann (Muller) as a line out caller and to make the right calls,” explained the hooker.
“Obviously you will throw in a few bits and pieces that you think will work well against them as opposed to any other team, but you can’t react the way that some teams do around Saracens and that is to become flustered.
“You can’t get through a season without losing a lineout. But what is important is how you react to losing a lineout. If we turn up on Saturday and lose the first one, we won’t panic.
“We will then make sure that we do everything right for the second one and we just have to keep building from there. That is the attitude that we have got to have right across the board.
“We have to have the attitude that no one can play the perfect game of rugby. Even when you do well, there are still things that you can do better.
“When something doesn’t go perfectly for us, we have to go to the next play and do it better and better and build momentum by doing that.”
Commenting on the squad’s preparations for the game, Best added: “We need to make sure between now and six thirty on Saturday night that if there is anything that we can do that might improve our performance by half a percent, then we have to go and do it.
“If you need to rest up, then you rest up. If it is getting an hour in bed in the afternoon then you go and do that.
“It is the one week of the year were you need to be a little bit selfish where you can say, ‘I am going to go away and do this and do it no matter what’.””
Whatever it takes. Not a bad summary of Best’s unmatched commitment to his province.