Rory Best and Cian Healy are off Down Under.
Lions 2013

Rory Best targets starting spot against Australia after Lions call-up

The call-up to Warren Gatland’s squad was just the tonic for Best after Ulster’s Pro12 Final defeat to Leinster.

THE FOLLOWING IS an interview carried out between Ulster Rugby and Rory Best when he learned of his inclusion in the 2013 Lions squad:

UR: After the disappointment of a few weeks ago, how good is it now, to be called up to the squad?

RB: It was hard when I didn’t make the initial squad, because it is everyone’s ambition, it is everyone’s ultimate goal to qualify to play for them. To now be selected is a massive honour.

Has it sunk in that you will be leaving with the squad on Monday?

It hasn’t fully sunk in yet, it is hard to describe because it is the ultimate for a rugby player. To finally be selected makes playing professional rugby worthwhile. All the lows that you get and the knocks and bumps, it more than makes up for them and for a few weeks ago when I thought that the chance had gone.

Being called into the Lions squad must have been a great high after the lows of losing the Pro12 Final?

Yesterday was bitterly disappointing from a team point of view. Today from a personal view it has lifted me out of a bit of despair after the game and it was great to get the news.

Mike Ross consoles Rory Best after Leinster defeated Ulster on Saturday. (©INPHO/Presseye/Darren Kidd)

You have had huge support over the past few weeks. How encouraging has that support been?

When you don’t make squads, you doubt your ability and the way that you are playing. I was fairly happy with the way that I was playing, but the support that I have had over the past number of weeks, not just from friends and family but also from the Ulster Rugby players and Management and from the fans and general public has meant a lot to me.

Now, to finally be there, it’s hard to put into words, it makes it all worthwhile. The past few weeks, with the receptions at Ravenhill, everywhere I go, everyone wants to wish me well. Now, to finally be there, it is great.”

Now that you are in the squad, is the next goal is to make the Test Team?

Yes definitely there will be 37 players getting on a plane to Hong Kong tomorrow aiming to make the test squad and I am no different. I am as ambitious as everyone else. To be on the tour is unbelievable, but you have to go there and play your best rugby, put your hand up and see where that takes you.

To read more on the reasons behind Best’s call up, check the links below.

Rory Best receives Lions call-up as Dylan Hartley gets 11-week ban

Rory Best is a 2013 British and Irish Lion and here’s your proof