Ulster Rugby have confirmed the appointment of Rory Best as captain for the 2017-18 season.
Best was previously captain in 2015-16 season but stepped down at the end of the season in aid of Ulster’s leadership change. Andrew Trimble and Rob Herring were appointed dual captains, depending on availability and opposition as to who would lead the side out.
Best has guided Ireland to victories over New Zealand, Australia and South Africa since succeeding Paul O’Connell as captain of the national team but aged 35, time is running out for the Banbridge man to end Ulster’s trophy drought.
A veteran of two Lions’ Tours, Best has captained midweek games in both the successful tours to New Zealand and Australia in recent years. He will undoubtedly have a positive influence on those around him.
Currently sitting on 198 appearances for Ulster, only Roger Wilson and Andrew Trimble have played more times for the province and he looks set to join the elite group of players who have appeared for Ulster on 200 occasions.
Ulster were criticised for a lack of leadership on the pitch last year and the change in leadership will be welcomed by many Ulster supporters. In both losses against Munster and Edinburgh, Ulster looked rudderless and without anyone to motivate the side for a final push over the line.
In Best we have an esteemed individual within player circles, a fan favourite and someone with the motivating ability that could change narrow defeats into victories. In his last season as captain when Ulster were pushing for a playoff spot, Rory inspired the side to thumping defeats of Ospreys and Leinster.
However it is still to be seen how many games he will feature in this season as he is still heavily involved in the international set up. Set to miss Friday night’s clash against Toyota Cheetahs, Chris Henry will captain the side in his absence and will likely assume the position as Rory’s deputy.