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Rory Best enjoyed special days aplenty during his 14-year international career, but none of them came in the red of the British & Irish Lions. For such a celebrated player, his lack of a Lions Test cap is surprising.

It’s a subject that features in Best’s excellent autobiography, written in collaboration with Gavin Mairs – you can read a review of the book here.

Further down this article, you have the opportunity to win a copy of the book in our competition. But first, we thought it worth recapping his Lions experiences.

Instead, the Ulsterman was overlooked for the trip to South Africa. Flannery, Lee Mears and Matthew Rees were the chosen hookers and when Flannery pulled out injured, Scotland’s Ross Ford was called in as a replacement.Best made his Ireland debut just after the Lions’ 2005 whitewash in New Zealand. So his first realistic chance to tour came four years later, when he was a 32-cap understudy to Jerry Flannery.

By 2013, Best was a regular starter for Ireland, with 67 caps under his belt. Many pundits predicted he would be the first-choice Lions hooker.

However, Best and Warren Gatland had history, the Lions’ head coach having called him out for making what he perceived as derogatory comments about his 2008 Wales team. When the squad to tour Australia was announced, the three hookers were Dylan Hartley, Richard Hibbard and Tom Youngs.

Best writes: “The boys in the Ulster squad attempted to ease my disappointment with a bit of ribbing, but the feeling of hollowness was overwhelming. When I got home, Jodie [his wife] was in tears. She knew how much I would be hurting.”

Yet fortunes turned when Hartley got suspended after being sent off in the English Premiership final, opening the door for Best to make his Lions bow.

He hoped it would be redemption for 2009, but Best struggled with the new combinations and the English-based lineout system. He lacked confidence and withdrew into itself.

Being asked to lead the midweek side against the Brumbies in Canberra lifted his mood, only for the match to end in a 14-12 defeat – the Lions’ first loss to a provincial side since 1997…

win Rory Best's autobiography

Pictured above is an Irish player who Rory Best says “knows more about rugby than anyone I have ever met”. Who is he?

To enter: Click on the ‘Enter Competition ‘ button below, answer the above question and enter your details, easy!

Enter by:  11.59pm on Monday 8 June 2020.

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