RORY BEST HAS downplayed concerns over the severity of his ankle injury and, in line with Ulster’s medical update issued earlier today, says he hopes to return for the province before the end of the season.
The Ireland captain suffered ankle ligament damage during the first half of Ulster’s agonising Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final defeat to Leinster last Saturday, limping out of the game after just 16 minutes.
Best limped out of Saturday’s game at the Aviva. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO
Best, who sustained the injury in the eighth minute at the Aviva Stadium, was visibly distraught as he limped off and sat on the bench, before the hooker was seen in a moon boot and on crutches during the second half.
Dan McFarland said the medical team had put Best’s left ankle in support as a precautionary measure, and although he will remain in the boot for the rest of this week, the 36-year-old was happy to report there is no structural damage.
Best remains hopeful of getting back on the field in time to aid Ulster’s bid to reach the Pro14 play-offs, although he’ll definitely miss Friday’s game against Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun and the trip to Edinburgh on 12 April.
McFarland’s side conclude their regular-season campaign at home to Leinster on Saturday 27 April, and Best is in a race against time to be fit for that inter-pro, with a potential quarter-final tie the following week giving him a better chance of pulling on the white jersey before the end of this season.
“It’s not too bad,” Best said in Dublin this afternoon in his role as Specsavers Audiologists ambassador.
“I think given the nature of how the injury happened, and the nature of some of the injuries that happened on that day and in the past, realistically it’s probably as good as it could have been.
“There’s nothing torn, it’s probably stretched, a few of the ligaments around that. So it’s probably a case of staying in the boot towards the end of this week, then I’ll get it out and it’ll depend on swelling and how quickly I can put weight through it.
“So I still hope to play again for Ulster this season, which is important for me. A little bit of that will depend on how long our season goes. Obviously, if it finishes after the Leinster game, it leaves it very tight. But if we can make play-offs, it gives me a good opportunity.”
Best, having made an impactful start to the game, sustained the damage as he was cleaned out trying to poach Leinster ball, leaving his left foot to stay in the ground as he went back over it.