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Dublin: 12 °C Friday 22 February, 2019
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Ireland prepped and focused despite the many distractions in Chicago -- Rory Best

A Chicago Cubs victory parade 108 years in the making was taking place 17 floors below where the skipper was speaking this morning.

Eyes on the prize. Rory Best gathers his team in Soldier Field this morning.
Eyes on the prize. Rory Best gathers his team in Soldier Field this morning.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Sean Farrell reports from Trump Tower, Chicago

RORY BEST AND his Ireland squad got their Captain’s Run in Soldier Field out of the way nice and early this morning, tunnelling their way back to their base before the city got too crazy.

The usual in-stadium press conference immediately following a Captain’s Run was hasilty shelved and moved back to the team hotel today in an effort to steer clear of the Chicago Cubs’ victory parade, which is expected to draw as many as one million people into the centre of the city.

As Best and scrum coach Greg Feek spoke next to a 17th floor window overlooking the Michigan Avenue bridge, the crowds cheered and parade trucks honked over their answers.

“It’s not been helped by the travel back and forward and the parade and sirens, there are distractions everywhere,” Best says before shutting out the external factors by minimising into the ‘just like any other game’ pile.

“It’s no different from being at home in Dublin for a Test match. When you come into the Shelbourne in the city centre there’s distractions everywhere.

We’ll enjoy that down time. But we know we’re here for a job and we have to focus on the task. When we have a bit of down time we need to make sure at the back of our mind is always the task ahead tomorrow.”

The Ireland captain famously suffered a broken arm during the first half of the last encounter between the sides in Dublin, playing on a number of phases despite carrying a lame forearm. He touches his head for luck when hoping he won’t suffer the same fate, but like Jack McGrath yesterday, he swiftly moves on from any hint of the 2013 heartbreak. Different game, different city and hopefully a different result.

“Hopefully, touch wood, that doesn’t happen again. It was just one of those things that happen.

Rory Best scores his sides second try Best scores Ireland's second try against the All Blacks in 2013. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“When you get the Captain’s Run and the day before the game and a run-out at the venue: that’s when it really starts to feel like you’re into the Test match.

“This is the longest time, the countdown waiting for it. These are the moments you get the excitement, the mixed emotions, the nerves and everything that goes with it.

“These are the moments when it’s great to be an international rugby player.”

Best doesn’t do anything to play down the threat from the opposition. What’s the point. They’re one of, if not the, best team ever to grace the game. Taking the scalp won’t be easy, but Ireland are chasing perfection.

What I’ve seen over the Rugby Championship is you’ve got the minimise how many unforced errors you have. They are going to create chances, but you can’t gift them chances on top of that.”

“We’ve got to respect them, but we can’t go out and fear them. We’ve got to go out and have our gameplan, stick to it rigidly and ultimately beat the All Blacks.”

Sounds like cause for another parade.

 

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Sean Farrell

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