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Dublin: 10°C Sunday 16 May 2021

'Pressure can do very strange things to you' - Ireland captain Best

The 36-year-old made his final appearance in the Six Nations in Cardiff.

Murray Kinsella reports from the Principality Stadium

THE HOPE FOR Ireland was that Rory Best could mark his final appearance in the Six Nations in winning fashion but this trip to Cardiff will be hard to forget for all the wrong reasons.

The Ulsterman was powerless to prevent his side from being comprehensively dismantled by Warren Gatland’s Wales, as Ireland delivered one of their poorest performances ever under Joe Schmidt.

Rory Best and Conor Murray dejected Best and Ireland are clapped off by Wales. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Having opted to keep the roof open at the Principality Stadium, Schmidt’s men had a dire start and then struggled to put together a performance that challenged the Welsh as they bid for their Grand Slam.

36-year-old Best can still end his Ireland career in style at the World Cup later this year, but his involvement in the Six Nations concluded on a bitterly disappointing note.

“There are a couple of big areas that we really pride ourselves on to get us into the game and that’s usually our set-piece and our discipline and both of those let us down today,” said Best post-match.

“Obviously, with the conditions being what they were, to go so quickly into a 10-0 margin behind is incredibly frustrating and it just puts pressure on you and pressure can do very strange things to you.

“You have to force it then a little bit and they’ve got their tails up and there was a little bit of a release of pressure for them because there was a vast amount of pressure and expectation going into a Grand Slam game.

“We know what it was like 12 months ago and all you want is to get into the game and be able to fire the first shot and they did that and never looked back. So we’ll take a look at why those bits that are normally so strong for us let us down.

“We were incredibly disappointed by that but you have to give them credit, they came out very, very hard and very, very fast and they were able to then go really hard at the defence and put us under pressure.”

Rory Best dejected after the game Best played in the Six Nations for the final time. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Ireland had spoken about marking the occasion of Best’s final Six Nations appearance with a big performance during the build-up but they completely failed to deliver on that talk on the pitch in Cardiff.

He does have superb memories in this competition – last year’s Grand Slam chief among them – but Best won’t recall Cardiff 2019 with any fondness.

“Obviously, I’m incredibly disappointed,” said Best. “On your last Six Nations game you want it to be a fairytale, you want to win and to win in a place like this would have been a massive statement for the team.

“It would have involved us having a massive performance and that’s what you want to go out on. You don’t want to go out on a performance that, individually and collectively, you’re not happy with.

“Look, it is what it is. Whenever the dust settles and we get 2019 over with, I’ll look back on the Six Nations with a lot of pride about what I’ve been involved with and achieved. It just happened to be the case that the last game won’t go on the highlight reel.”

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Murray Kinsella

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