Best insists "laws are there to be pushed"
February 1, 2013
Hooker Rory Best was a contender for the Ireland capataincy that now resides with No.8 Jamie Heaslip © Getty Images
Ireland hooker Rory Best believes the laws of the game are there to be tested and holds no ill-feeling towards Wales for their controversial victory in the last meeting between the sides at the Millennium Stadium.
Wales claimed a narrow 19-13 win in their Six Nations clash two years ago after an unlawful quick lineout - taken with a different ball - led to a crucial try. The offence was not spotted by the officials but Best has exonerated Wales hooker Matthew Rees of any blame and insists it is an acceptable part of the game.
"You take a win, no matter what. The way that rule was bent slightly with the quick throw-in was no different to opensides cheating at the breakdown," Best told PA Sport. "The laws are there to be pushed and referees are there to make sure they're not pushed too far.
"If we'd have scored that try we'd have taken the five points. It's up to the officials to pick that up. We want to win and the laws are there, I suppose, as bit of a loose guide for the players to follow.
"There's no doubt we've learned a few lessons from that - if you switch off you concede points, whether it's three or five. Hopefully those lessons are behind us now and this is a fresh start and none of that gamesmanship will be able to take place."
Controversy also marred the last meeting of the sides in Dublin last year when the sin-binning of Stephen Ferris enabled Leigh Halfpenny to kick an 80th-minute that set the seal on a 23-21 win. But Best is adamant that there is nothing 'nasty' about their celtic rivalry.
"When you lose to a team you double your effort to make sure you don't lose the next time you play each other," Best said. "It hasn't got nasty - we've just been on the wrong side of the results in the last three games and we're not happy about that.
"Wales probably feel they have bit of a number on us, but we won the previous two games before losing three. We badly want to put the record straight. It hasn't got nasty, but we know each other so well."
His sentiments have been echoed by flanker Sean O'Brien. "Wales has become a championship-defining match. You can't win a Grand Slam on the first day, but you can lose one if you don't make a good start," O'Brien said. "There's a bit of hurt on our part after losing the last three and we want to put that right.
"Things didn't go our way last year, which was unfortunate because we played so well at times during the game. But we didn't play for the full 80 minutes, which is what we're looking to do this time.
"Wales may have lost seven in a row, but I don't think they'll be nervous at all. It's obviously a massive game for us. Wales are very tough opposition. The set-piece and breakdown will be massive."
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