RUGBY: British Lions call in 2017 ‘extra special’ for Best

Rory Best in action with the Lions during the Australia 2013 tour
Rory Best in action with the Lions during the Australia 2013 tour
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Rory Best was left feeling ‘elated’ on Wednesday when he heard his name read out and confirmation he would be going on the British and Irish Lions Tour to New Zealand this summer.

It was in complete contrast to the emotions he went through four years ago when the squad for Australia was revealed.

Ulster’s talismanic hooker was on the training paddock in 2013 when word filtered through he had not made the cut.

Then Dylan Hartley’s sending off playing with Northampton Saints in the Premiership Final against Leicester which earned him an 11-week ban, saw Best get called up.

Yesterday, Best was with his wife, Jodie, and children, Ben, Penny and Richie on a short break in Donegal.

They streamed the live Lions announcement on an iPhone.

“It was extra special this time. To hear your name read out in the initial squad and to enjoy that moment with your family - the best way to describe it was elation,” said Best.

The Ireland skipper had been talked up during the current season as a potential Lions captain, particularly after Ireland defeated New Zealand for the first time ever in Chicago in November.

Best then led Ireland to historic wins over South Africa and Australia in Dublin - the first time the country had defeated all three Southern Hemisphere sides in a calendar year.

When Ireland defeated England in Dublin at the end of the recent Six Nations championship to deny them a Grand Slam and also break New Zealand’s record winning consecutive Test match sequence of 18 matches, Best was again on the lips of the rugby world, certainly in the Northern Hemisphere anyway.

Best may not have got the captaincy - Wales’ Sam Warburton handed that role for the tour - but his inclusion in the side and his wealth of experience will see him in with a genuine chance of a first Test start having played in the midweek team during 2013.

“I have been given another opportunity and I am looking forward to taking that,” said Best.