Up for it: Rory Best ready to make up for lost time in new season with Ulster

Ulster's Rory Best at the Guinness PRO14 launch in Belfast
Ulster's Rory Best at the Guinness PRO14 launch in Belfast

Ireland captain Rory Best admits he found it difficult to watch his team-mates cap a glorious season with a first series win in Australia but is feeling the benefits now.

Best stayed at home to rest a hamstring problem that had flared up towards the end of each of the past two seasons and feels the summer break will serve him well.

"Monday to Friday was great, I was training and finished early and got to spend a bit of time with the kids and improve my golf a little bit," the Ulster hooker said at the Guinness PRO14 launch day.

"And then Saturday morning from about quarter to 11 to Sunday morning was hugely frustrating.

"You are part of a team and you feel far away and you don't add anything and it's frustrating watching. Especially when they add to Irish history. But it was great to see them doing so well.

"Rather than finishing a season battered and bruised and hanging on by a thread physically, I got to finish a season in good shape.

"It was very different for me to do rehab and a bit of conditioning with no pressure to come back for a game. It was something I had never really done before but mentally it was very refreshing."

The 36-year-old appreciates he will need more rest periods to be ready for next autumn's World Cup but he is content to leave others to decide what is best while he focuses on performances on a weekly basis.

"That's the beauty of the Irish system, it is taken out of your hands a little bit," he said.

"Ulster have been brilliant in my career. They know everyone wants to play for Ireland, it's a massive ambition and honour. They are very happy - or make you think that they are very happy anyway - that you have to miss some games through resting.

"But the flip side is none of the Irish players ever hold themselves back when they are back playing for your province.

"It's a good balance and guys that are further up the food chain than me will have mapped out games, rest periods, regeneration periods and it will all be geared towards the World Cup.

"Everyone knows what's coming in September next year but if we start to look beyond getting ready to play in the first block of games this season then your form suffers.

"And if your form suffers all you will have to worry about is where you are going to watch the World Cup because there are so many good players around Ireland that someone will replace you."

Best is set to miss the first couple of games of the season as he gradually builds up following the hamstring issue.

"It feels pretty good but everyone keeps telling me don't push it too hard too early because you can look after it by missing a couple of games now," he said.

"It's hard to take because all you want to do is play but you have to take a long-term view and be patient."