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The British & Irish Lions


Best feels for Hartley

27th May 2013 17:42


rory best lions

Sympathetic: Rory Best

Ulster and Ireland hooker Rory Best has expressed his sympathy for Dylan Hartley after his call-up to the British and Irish Lions squad.

Hartley was handed an 11-week suspension after being sent off in the Aviva Premiership Final for verbally abusing referee Wayne Barnes.

Best, who was seen by many as a surprise omission from the original 37-man Lions squad, received the call after Hartley's suspension was confirmed and will now compete with Richard Hibbard and Tom Youngs for a Test spot.

The Ireland number two revealed that whilst his original omission was a new low, getting the call was "great news."

"When the initial squad was announced that was as low as I've felt. We were training at Ulster at the time and more and more people on our management were avoiding eye contact with me," said Best.

"Nobody avoids you when it's good news, so I had an idea from that. It was bitterly disappointing and on that Tuesday afternoon I allowed myself to dwell on it and think deeply about the whole thing. But we had a few very important games coming up so it's a case of picking yourself up and dusting yourself down.

"It was obviously disappointing to lose the RaboDirect PRO12 final to Leinster on Saturday but yesterday I got the call to come along and join the boys.

"You don't like to dwell on other people's misfortune, but I definitely feel for Dylan and it's bitterly disappointing for him to miss out. That's sport.

"The Lions are something you dream of, an absolute honour to be here. I had to pull over on to the hard shoulder to make sure I didn't veer off the road at that stage.

"When you don't make the initial squad you try to stay fit and always keep your phone by your side.

"When the call came through it was a number I didn't recognise. I don't normally answer those but for this I made an exception. It was great news. Everyone's here to play in the Test team and I'm no different. It will take a lot of hard work but it's something I'm looking forward to."