Conor Buckley: Ulster are playing in their first Heineken Cup quarter final for the first time in over a decade next Saturday. What do you think their chances are going up against the Northampton Saints?
Rory Best: It’s obviously going to be very tough, You know logic would dictate that they are number one seeds, we are number eight, they are going to be heavily favorites but thankfully from our point of view that in sport, it often defies logic. It’s a great opportunity for us to first and foremost to go out and play and try to get to a level that we are happy with, not be too overawed with the occasion and go out and do ourselves justice.
CB: Ulster have had a big setback with the news that Stevie Ferris has to undergo more surgery on his injured knee and will miss the Heineken Cup Quarter final. How big a blow is that?
RB: From an Ulster Rugby point of view it’s absolutely massive, you know he’s a world-class player, for any team in the world to lose a player of that calibre will be a massive setback for them. We have a lot of strength in depth in our back-row especially, so Stevie’s unfortunate loss will be someone else’s massive opportunity to play in such a big game. On a personal level, I am very very disappointed for Stevie as he has come through a lot and put in big performances to get us to where we are. You know as a person there is no-one that would want to play in this big game as much as he would.
CB: There is a lot of heroes shining through in the Ulster squad these days, Ruan Pienaar has been stepping up to save the day in the last few Ulster games. Have the Springboks in the Ulster squad settled well?
RB: The big thing is that when you sign quality players they are going to do quality things for you, Ruan is just one example of that. The big thing that David (Humphreys) has done is that he has not just signed good players, he has signed good players that are going to step up to the mark in big games, and they have to be the right fit for Ulster off the field as well. No doubt all the signings we have made so far are exactly that.
CB: And you are losing one of your Springboks at the end of this season, BJ Botha is heading south to Munster?
RB: Yeah he is, he will be sorely missed, he was the first ‘so-called’ big name to come in whenever Ulster were struggling and I’m sure it was a massive leap of faith for him and his family to come at that time and no doubt that subsequent signings have been in-part down to him, and him being here. It’s sad for us to lose him, but we gain another good player John Afoa. From our point of view it’s a fresh new start for us next year with a new tight-head prop, a new emphasis and a new voice with regards to the scrum.
CB: Thanks for your time, and good luck for the game this weekend.
Rory Best was speaking at the launch of Bushmills Brothers in Belfast where an 18 square foot piece of street art was revealed on Great Victoria Street depicting Rory with his good friend Keith Wood. The Bushmills Brothers campaign draws upon the spirit of friendship and celebrates the experiences and stories that men share. The fantastic street art featuring Keith and Rory sum up the best of BUSHMILLS, namely genuine friends hanging out together and enjoying award winning Irish whiskey.