You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Ireland skipper hailed for his toughness

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 31/10/2016 Nick Purewal

<span style="font-size:13px;">Rory Best has been described as one of Ireland's toughest ever Test competitors as the captain closes in on 100 caps.</span> © Richard Heathcote/Getty Images Rory Best has been described as one of Ireland's toughest ever Test competitors as the captain closes in on 100 caps. Ireland skipper Rory Best has received some glowing praise as he prepares for his 98th Test, against the All Blacks in Chicago.

Ulster rugby director Les Kiss coached Best with Ireland for six years, and ranks the gritty hooker among the most durable players of the international arena.

Best will draw level with Peter Stringer as Ireland's fifth most-capped player in Saturday's Test against the world champions.

The 34-year-old can pass 100 caps this November, leaving former Ireland defence coach Kiss to laud the relentless drive that still underpins Best's career.

"To have passed 90 caps is special for the uncompromising way he plays the game, so to reach 100 caps would be some occasion too," Kiss said.

"He's had his injuries in his time, but he's robust, resilient and just keeps coming, keeps working hard to improve each year.

"He's got all the qualities that you'd expect from someone capable of reaching 100 caps."

Best has captained Ireland since Paul O'Connell's injury-enforced retirement after the World Cup in 2015.

Former interim Ireland head coach Kiss drew on Best's remarkable injury recovery during the 2011 World Cup to underscore the hooker's obdurate streak.

Best was all-but written off for Ireland's quarter-final against Wales after suffering a shoulder problem in the 36-3 pool match victory over Italy.

But Kiss explained how the Ulster front-rower's sheer willpower dragged him through an unforgiving contact session to prove his fitness.

"At the beginning of the week he had no chance of making the game, but that day he just ripped into it, and he went out and played accordingly.

"And that type of mental toughness he has is one of the critical components that he offers all the time."

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon