VIDEO: 'They’re not going to be held by the hand' says Rory Best

By Stephen Barry and Shaun Cronin

As the players around him began dropping like flies last Sunday, the experience of Rory Best at the heart of the scrum and hitting rucks became more and more crucial.

Best will become Ireland’s most capped hooker at the World Cup when he makes his 11th appearance on Sunday.

His influence hasn’t waned over the years - an involvement in 53 rucks across 74 minutes of action against France says that much.

As the Ireland and Munster captains fell victims to serious injuries, it was left to the likes of the Ulster captain as well as his Leinster counterpart Jamie Heaslip to lead the pack, which, after injuries to two Munster stars, is now made up of a combination of the Leinster and Ulster packs.

But approaching a quarter-final test that only comes around once every four years, at best, the Ulsterman is aware of the historical significance.

“We're obviously aware of it. Some of us have been watching rugby since 1987 so we've seen most of the World Cups, although a lot of our guys weren't born. But for us it's about winning a game.

“We know that this is different from the pool matches, there's no recovering from this if we don't perform. If we get the performance and the result we'll worry about what comes after that after Sunday.

VIDEO: 'They’re not going to be held by the hand' says Rory Best

“It's a good place to be for us as a squad coming into a quarter-final because ultimately when we get out on that pitch on Sunday at one o'clock there will be no one to hold your hand.

“I imagine if it's like last weekend you're not going to be able to hear each other anyway, it's going to be so loud.”

But while Paul O’Connell, Peter O’Mahony and Jared Payne have all had to travel away for operations and rehabilitation, the boost given by the match-fitness of Johnny Sexton, who suffered a game-ending groin injury last Sunday, is huge.

“When you lose a couple of key players, world-class players, it's great when one comes out the other side and is fit to play,” admitted Best.

“It's important for him to play but, at the same time, if you look at the performance of Ian Madigan last week it was very special and he was brilliant so we know we have plenty of backup there and it's reassuring.”

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