Rory Best was described as a ‘medical miracle’ by one of the strength and conditioning coaches at Ravenhill after the British and Irish Lions hooker was declared fit to play in Friday’s Heineken Cup Pool Five match against Montpellier at Ravenhill.
The Irish international had undergone surgery just six weeks ago on a fractured arm he had suffered during Ireland’s final November Guinness Test series match against New Zealand.
Having been given the green light at a review meeting with his surgeon Michael Eames on Monday, Best came through some tough training tests this week, passing all, which enabled him to fulfil his request six weeks ago – by his own admission – to be back for the visit of the French side.
It is a tribute to the 31-year-old and the medical team at Ravenhill including physiotherapist, Gareth Robinson and strength and conditioning coaches, Jonny Davis and Kevin Geary, to have him ready for the game.
“Kevin described me as a ‘medical miracle’ during the recovery process,” smiled Best, adding he was not so sure about it being a miracle as “as much to do with the work the guys put in with me to ensure I would be ready.
“This was the game we were targeting to get back, this was the one I had asked to get back for,” revealed Best in an exclusive interview with Ulster Rugby TV.
“I had the operation six weeks ago on Tuesday of this week. Obviously it has all gone well and I was also very lucky to have had no set backs along the way. It was a matter of pushing things along without being ridiculous about it.
“Thankfully it has come through well. I had my last X-rays on Monday and Michael (Eames) was happy and gave me the green light,” added Best.
The Pontzpass man revealed that it was the toughest operation he had had to overcome.
“I really struggled that week with the pain and everything. But I was back in the following Monday to push it as much as I could once got the go ahead to start the rehab.
“The guys are very inventive as to what they can make you do. I did not lose too much muscle mass or fitness. Luckily enough with the nature of the injury I was able to run soon after the operation. It was just a case of working hard, trying to keep the head down.
“I knew it was a tight goal to make it for this game, I just needed to focus on the work and the guys were good at pushing me on.”
Best said it had been vital to have a target, but with two big games coming up in Europe he knew that was his goal.
“Europe is something special and playing in the Heineken Cup is something no player wants to miss,” he said.
“To be back this Friday for a Euro clash against a top team like Montpellier, it is something I am really looking forward too.
“Yes it is a tough ask , but we know we have quality players here and we know we can get to the end of Jnauary and be in a strong position in two competitions.
“That is where we want to be so it is a case of getting the job done this week once again.”