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Dublin: 10 °C Tuesday 22 October, 2019
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Best delivers good news on ankle injury as he targets end-of-season return

‘I still hope to play again for Ulster this season, which is important for me.’

RORY BEST HAS downplayed concerns over the severity of his ankle injury and, in line with Ulster’s medical update issued earlier today, says he hopes to return for the province before the end of the season. 

The Ireland captain suffered ankle ligament damage during the first half of Ulster’s agonising Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final defeat to Leinster last Saturday, limping out of the game after just 16 minutes. 

Rory Best dejected after the game Best limped out of Saturday's game at the Aviva. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Best, who sustained the injury in the eighth minute at the Aviva Stadium, was visibly distraught as he limped off and sat on the bench, before the hooker was seen in a moon boot and on crutches during the second half.

Dan McFarland said the medical team had put Best’s left ankle in support as a precautionary measure, and although he will remain in the boot for the rest of this week, the 36-year-old was happy to report there is no structural damage.

Best remains hopeful of getting back on the field in time to aid Ulster’s bid to reach the Pro14 play-offs, although he’ll definitely miss Friday’s game against Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun and the trip to Edinburgh on 12 April.

McFarland’s side conclude their regular-season campaign at home to Leinster on Saturday 27 April, and Best is in a race against time to be fit for that inter-pro, with a potential quarter-final tie the following week giving him a better chance of pulling on the white jersey before the end of this season.

“It’s not too bad,” Best said in Dublin this afternoon in his role as Specsavers Audiologists ambassador. 

“I think given the nature of how the injury happened, and the nature of some of the injuries that happened on that day and in the past, realistically it’s probably as good as it could have been.

“There’s nothing torn, it’s probably stretched, a few of the ligaments around that. So it’s probably a case of staying in the boot towards the end of this week, then I’ll get it out and it’ll depend on swelling and how quickly I can put weight through it.

“So I still hope to play again for Ulster this season, which is important for me. A little bit of that will depend on how long our season goes. Obviously, if it finishes after the Leinster game, it leaves it very tight. But if we can make play-offs, it gives me a good opportunity.”

Best, having made an impactful start to the game, sustained the damage as he was cleaned out trying to poach Leinster ball, leaving his left foot to stay in the ground as he went back over it. 

Rory Best Best was speaking in Dublin today. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

After receiving treatment, the hooker soldiered on for another eight minutes but lost his battle to run the issue off, reluctantly making way for Rob Herring as his afternoon was cut short.

“I think the final straw was Leinster had a maul and I stayed at the edge of it, I went to hit it, as soon as I strayed off a straight line, I sort of pivoted to go and hit it, it felt like I lost all strength in that foot,” he continued.

“I went in and I hit Tadhg Furlong basically on one leg, hoping that he didn’t throw me out the other side of it. It’s kind of one of those, you go down and you don’t want to be a passenger in a game like that, especially when we have somebody like Rob Herring on the bench, a fantastic player.

“Disappointing as it is, I would have gladly soldiered on for whatever, but ultimately the team comes first. In a game of that magnitude, against someone like Leinster, if you’re playing with 14 and a half men, they’re going to exploit you at some stage.

“It was the right thing to do, especially with someone of the calibre of Rob there as well.”

Rory Best today launched Specsavers’ ‘Don’t Suffer in Silence’, an audiology campaign that encourages Irish adults to take a more proactive approach to their hearing health.

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Ryan Bailey

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