Rory Best: 'There's no doubt that Wales can reach the final'

Choking back his personal disappointment at throwing away what his Ireland team-mates all regarded as a golden opportunity, Rory Best yesterday backed Wales to reach their first World Cup final at the expense of their Six Nations rivals France next Saturday in Auckland.

The 29-year-old Ulster hooker believes Warren Gatland's resurgent side showed that they have all the tools to progress to the Eden Park final during their titanic 22-10 victory here on Saturday.

"Credit to Wales, they came at us and didn't let us settle or gather breath. They were deserving winners," he said. "Good luck to Wales next weekend, they thoroughly deserve to be there.

"There's no doubt Wales can reach the final. The beauty of this side of the draw is that it's very much the Six Nations – and Wales have shown in the recent past that they can win Grand Slams. That's basically what they have to do now to get to the final."

In public Ireland said throughout their stay in New Zealand that they were never looking beyond the next match, but Best revealed that privately they were intent on lifting the Webb Ellis trophy. Beating Australia to win their group, and thus earn a berth in the supposedly easier northern hemisphere half of the quarter-final draw only strengthened their conviction that this was their time.

In an honest assessment of Ireland's agonising departure, Best admitted the team will take home special memories from the hordes of supporters who followed them across New Zealand – but that these are not enough. "The bottom line is that we travelled here to win the World Cup. It will take a while to get over this. There's no doubt this was a fantastic chance," said Best.

"We all knew that topping our group would turn it into knockout Six Nations rugby. We knew we had the ability to win that side of the draw, but we also knew we had to turn up on the day.

"We knew deep down we hadn't really performed on the big stage before and this was the time to do it. We got to the quarter-final confident that we could win, but failed to achieve that."

But neutral observers found it hard to be too critical of an Ireland team that contributed so fully to a remarkable quarter-final between two of the World Cup's form sides. When the time came, Ireland failed to turn pressure into points against a ferocious Welsh defence. Facing men who displayed a maturity and composure that belied their lack of experience, Ireland turned in their most error-strewn performance of the tournament.

"We're bitterly disappointed. Credit to Wales, but for us the emotion is very raw. It's just one of those things unfortunately," Best said. "It's a team game and we're all in this together. We've had a fantastic time in New Zealand.

"There's been a great feeling throughout the squad while we've been here and we're all very disappointed to be going home. We came up short here. We wanted to get into the last four. It was something we wanted badly, but we haven't managed it."

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen