Comments that Rory Best made after Ireland’s World Cup exit were never meant to criticise Joe Schmidt, the former Ireland captain has revealed.
The Ulsterman made comments in the aftermath of Ireland’s disappointing World Cup campaign about how he felt there may have been ‘too much detail’ from the coaches during the tournament.
However, speaking to Off The Ball, the 37-year old explained that he only intended to give an insight into Ireland’s struggles rather than blame Schmidt for the quarter-final exit.
“I think what you don’t come across in that text is I’m sitting with the benefit of hindsight looking for 1%. I’m not saying, under any circumstances that Joe [Schmidt] go, ‘Alright, I’m taking over everything.’
“I’m talking about little tiny moments where we should have been better. When you’re dealing with test rugby that’s what you’re dealing with.
“You’re dealing with 1%. I think it was more just me saying that ‘There are so much retention and stress going around that you get little moments to relieve it.’
“Look, I think ultimately there are so many reasons that we didn’t. I think the problem with this is the people want, ‘What happened?’ And you don’t know.
“So really what you’re doing is you’re going, ‘In hindsight, I wonder if it would have made a difference if we did this, this and this.’ Probably not. I was just saying, ‘This is what I think.’” Best said.
The former Ulster captain was frustrated at the way his comments were misconstrued and that he was surprised at the way people reacted to them.
“To be honest, it hurt a little bit. Some of the people that I think should know me, and know me better. I know that you had a couple of interviews and you had a panel on one of the rugby shows.
“You were interviewing Joe [Schmidt] that night and I don’t think that you necessarily missed me either. I think certainly the people in the panel should know me better than to say I was trying to distance myself from it.
“I just don’t like that because that’s not the way I am and that’s not what I do. I think that was the thing that probably annoyed me the most. That it looked like I was kicking him when he was down,” Best commented.
Best was not the only player who attempted to explain Ireland’s poor performances, with new Ireland captain Johnny Sexton also exploring where the team went wrong.
However, as Best had retired after the World Cup, he feels that his comments were taken more poorly than those of his former teammate’s.
“The difference with Johnny [Sexton] was that he was going back into the Leinster set-up. Whereas [Schmidt and I] were both out. It turned out that it was raw.
“To a certain extent it looked like I was giving a bit of a hindsight opinion and that’s all it would be. I didn’t think they would run with it as firmly.
“I did feel like I was kicking Joe when he was down and that’s never what I meant,” Best said.
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