Wales hooker Ken Owens has described Ireland captain Rory Best as “a great player” ahead of Saturday’s NatWest 6 Nations clash in Dublin.
The rival front-row forwards, colleagues on last summer’s British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand, are set to be key performers during an intriguing Aviva Stadium encounter.
Victory for Wales would end Ireland’s Grand Slam hopes and keep alive their own title chances, while an Irish win would increase the likelihood of a championship showdown against England at Twickenham on March 17.
“I’ve played against Rory a lot over the years, and he is a quality player,” Owens said.
“He has won a lot of Test caps, he’s played more than 200 times for Ulster and he’s been a mainstay of the Irish pack as a quality operator.
“It’s always a tough game playing against him because he is that good. He deserves praise for his durability, and he has adapted to stay at the top of the game for so long.
“It is a huge credit to him, and we’ve always got on well and had that mutual respect even before the Lions tour.
“On the tour, seeing how he conducted himself and led that midweek team in the last couple of weeks showed what a player he is. He’s a great player.”