RORY Best has left for this year’s Rugby World Cup with Ireland, knowing that the plan is very simple - take each game as it comes.
They begin their bid for the Webb Ellis Cup this weekend in New Zealand with a game against former Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan’s USA side.
A win will be expected and while all sights will be set on their second game against Australia Best says that the Irish will not be getting above their station.
“In a World Cup you can’t get too ahead of yourself,” he said.
“You have to look at the pool games and you have to win those.
“There’s no doubt there’s a huge carrot for finishing at the top of the group.
But the only way you can do that is by taking each game as it comes and to make sure you win that game.
“You have to treat each match as a one-off international but with half an eye on the bigger picture.”
Ireland have failed to reach the last four of the World Cup since the competition’s inception. They should make it out of their group - Russia and Italy are the other teams in Pool C.
If they could do so it would kill off some of the ghosts of 2007 in France when Ireland gave a poor account of themselves.
For Best, though, that was a troubling time with his brother, Simon, forced to withdraw from Ireland’s squad after losing feeling down the one side of his body and subsequently being diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat, being forced to retire from the game.
Now he will be able to go out and enjoy the experience of what will be his second World Cup that bit more.
“At the last World Cup in 2007 we were preoccupied with doing well and that put pressure upon ourselves,” he said.
“This time we are going down the lines of going out and enjoying ourselves.
“We’re going to New Zealand to play against the best players and teams in the world. We want to enjoy playing but also be physical and express ourselves on the pitch.
“And when we get time off the pitch, we’ll enjoy the whole experience of being there.”
Best added,“It should be a great experience and it is a wonderful opportunity to play in another World Cup.
“At the end of the day, taking part in a World Cup is the pinnacle of any international career and I am looking forward to playing in New Zealand.”
The World Cup squad place marks the closing of a chapter that nearly ended Best’s own career.
Best missed almost all of the 2009/10 season due to a chronic disc problem but now he is fighting fit and ready to battle with Jerry Flannery once again for the number two shirt.
Best said, “When you do pick up serious injuries and end of career phrases are thrown about, it really does refocus you.
“It made me think to myself, what have I really achieved?
“I’ve been part of a Grand Slam side with Ireland but only started one of five games, played for Ulster when we struggled to get out of our group in the Heineken Cup and been in an Ireland side who had a poor World Cup in 2007.
“So the one thing that drove me on during my comeback was a hunger to win things.
“As well as that it reassesses you and makes you realise how lucky you are and how quickly it can be cut short.
“You have to enjoy every minute when you get playing rugby, especially with Ulster and Ireland.”
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