British & Irish Lions
Best looks to profit from twist of fate
ESPN Staff
May 27, 2013
Ulster hooker Rory Best reflects on his side's loss. Ulster v Leinster, RaboDirect PRO12, RDS, Dublin, Ireland, May 25, 2013
Rory Best reflects on Saturday's PRO12 loss to Leinster - but now he is travelling with the Lions © PA Photos

Ireland hooker Rory Best said it was an "absolute honour" to have been given the chance to tour with the British & Irish Lions following Dylan Hartley's misdemeanour at the weekend.

Best was one of the high profile omissions from Warren Gatland's original 37-man squad for the tour to Australia and the hooker revealed it was one of the darkest moments in his career. But in the aftermath of Ulster's RaboDirect PRO12 final defeat to Leinster at the weekend, Best was handed an unlikely boost as news of Hartley's sending off in the Aviva Premiership final filtered through.

Hartley was subsequently handed an 11-week suspension and Best was immediately called up by the Lions staff. "When the initial squad was announced that was as low as I've felt," Best said prior to flying out with the Lions. "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. But we had a few very important games coming up so it's a case of picking yourself up and dusting yourself down.

"It was obviously disappointing to lose the RaboDirect PRO12 final to Leinster on Saturday but yesterday I got the call to come along and join the boys. You don't like to dwell on other people's misfortune, but I definitely feel for Dylan and it's bitterly disappointing for him to miss out. That's sport."

Best was in line to travel with Ireland to North America as their captain but he has swapped that for a trip to Australia. "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. When you don't make the initial squad you try to stay fit and always keep your phone by your side. When the call came through it was a number I didn't recognise. I don't normally answer those but for this I made an exception. It was great news.

"Everyone's here to play in the Test team and I'm no different. It will take a lot of hard work but it's something I'm looking forward to."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Live Sports

Communication error please reload the page.