Rory Best is as happy as a man wearing a moon boot can be.
Injured towards the end of the first quarter of last Saturday's
The immediate thought was that he was a huge loss to an Ulster side that ultimately came within a whisker of beating their provincial rivals while fears for his possible participation in the upcoming World Cup in Japan weren't far behind in their wake.
The news is good, though. Very, very good. For club and for country.
“Probably the scan yesterday couldn’t have been a lot better,” he said on Tuesday when announced as an ambassador for Specsavers Audiologists. “There’s no structural damage, just a few wrenches I suppose to some the ligaments in there. So, from that side of things, it’s good news. It is still going to be a few weeks. They just like to put the magical figure of six weeks on it.
It might be less. It might be more. It’s in and around there. I would hope to play some part in the end of season for Ulster, which will be a big goal now. Obviously that will depend on the next three games, certainly the next two games for us in terms of play offs.
He was worried when it happened. And for some time afterwards.
“It’s probably more Sunday morning when all the adrenalin ... going home Sunday night when all the adrenalin has worn off you start to get a bit sore. I was saying to myself 'I wonder could I have pushed on and played on'.
“But any time I turned at any kind of angle and ... probably the final straw was when I was at the edge of a maul and I went to hit Tadhg Furlong. Just as I turned I lost a bit of power. Whenever you lose power hitting that man it’s not ideal.
“I knew then that I wasn’t great but I was hoping everything was intact ... On Saturday night Sunday morning I was a bit sore, a bit worried about it so I’m as happy as I could be yesterday when I got the scan.”
There was more good news for the player and the province on Tuesday morning when
McGrath has fallen down the pecking order in Dublin due to injuries and issues with form but Best was lavish with his praise of a man with whom he has soldiered with – and against – many times in the past.
“For Ulster itself, to have somebody of the quality of Jack McGrath coming up in a pack where, certainly the last couple of years, that’s been a bit of an Achilles heel... When it came to the big games we’ve had a tendency to be beaten up a little bit.
“So if you can bolster it with the likes of Marty Moore and Jordi (Murphy) this year and now Jack next year, I think it is really important for us. And it’s a good sign for us that the players want to come up to us.”