Ulster elder statesman Rory Best has said he will make a decision on his playing career after the autumn internationals with Ireland.
The 36-year-old hooker holds a contract with the province and the IRFU until the end of the 2019 Rugby World Cup and stands as one of few experienced figures within the Ulster squad following the retirements of Andrew Trimble, Tommy Bowe and Paul Marshall.
Set to lead Ireland in a World Cup year and Ulster under the new reign of head coach Dan McFarland, the veteran was asked where his head is at when it comes to plans for retirement.
“I think I’ll make a decision on that in due course,” Best said at the launch of PRO14 2018-19 season in Glasgow.
“It’ll not be something that I’ll leave until the last minute because if it is my last season, the club means too much to me to do something in the 11th hour and say ‘that’s it for me’ and leave them no time to replace me.
“We’re at the stage now where I’m contracted to the end of the World Cup and a big focus of mine is going to be getting back, getting fit, getting rid of the injuries and the niggles, and focusing on this (first) part of the season with Ulster, and then the autumn internationals, and then we’ll maybe sit down and have a look at it.
“I’ll have played PRO14, I’ll have played Europe and I’ll have played international so we’ll see how the body is holding up,” Best added.
The forward has been Ulster through and through over his 14-year career, accruing 2014 appearances and having spent a decade as the team’s captain.
Unsettled in the coaching departure over the past two seasons and weakened on the pitch by the jettison of scrum-half Ruan Pienaar and the retirement of Roger Wilson, Best said he was relieved to have Scotland coach Dan McFarland commit himself.
“It’s really important that Dan arrived,” Best said.
“Dan has two weeks now (before the first league game against Scarlets) to get his head round everything and us to get our heads around everything that he expects from us. That’s really good for us and it allows us to get used to him and used to his voice.”
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