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'There is a little bit of undue criticism': Best keen to re-establish his benchmark

The Ireland captain is on the bench for Saturday’s game in Cardiff.

Best has worked hard in training this week.
Best has worked hard in training this week.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

JOE SCHMIDT ADMITS he had not planned to use Rory Best in tomorrow’s third World Cup warm-up game against Wales, but the Ireland captain requested to be on the bench after a difficult week.

Best was due to be rested for Ireland’s trip to the Principality Stadium but the 37-year-old was keen to be involved again after his performance during the record defeat to England ‘didn’t reach the high benchmark he sets for himself.’

With Ireland’s lineout completely malfunctioning in London, the Ulster hooker endured a difficult afternoon and has been the subject of intense criticism from some quarters this week as his position in the side is questioned.

But Schmidt has leapt to the defence of Best, highlighting the other aspects of his contribution against Eddie Jones’ side.

“It wasn’t originally in the plan, but the plan has to be fluid,” the head coach said of Best’s inclusion on the bench, with Munster’s Niall Scannell handed a starting opportunity. 

“You get guys who pick up knocks or who need a little bit more time. Rory wants to get more time because he feels he was under-done and he didn’t have the energy in his legs.

“Therefore, the fatigue started to affect other elements of the game. I think the people who launched the criticism at him, some of it is unfair.

“The quality of what he provided as far as his support play and breakdown work were still of a really good standard. To put his performance in a nutshell that is the lineout, when there are so many moving parts — he will be disappointed with a few throws.

At the same time, we were disappointed with a couple of the calls, the speed and shape of the movement. There is a little bit of undue criticism. At the same time, Rory is very self-critical.

“He is very conscious of wanting to improve himself.  I know internally he has set an incredibly high benchmark for himself

“He didn’t reach that benchmark and he’s very keen to re-establish that benchmark coming off the bench on Saturday.”

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Ryan Bailey

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