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Two-time Lion Rory Best to retire after World Cup

Rory Best in action for the Lions during the 2017 Tour against the Highlanders (Inpho)

Two-time British & Irish Lion Rory Best has announced that this season will be his last in the professional game.

“This feels like the right time for me to go out on my terms.”

The Ireland hooker will hang up his boots from all rugby following the autumn World Cup and will be desperate to end his career on a high.

There is little that Best – who toured with the Lions in 2013 and 2017 and captained them on both Tours in mid-week – has not achieved in the game.

With Ireland he has won two Grand Slams, and four Championship titles in total, and took over from Paul O’Connell as the national team skipper in 2013.

Since then Ireland have hit the heights under Joe Schmidt, beating Australia and South Africa home and away and also downing the All Blacks on home soil for the first time.

Best had intimated he would retire from international rugby following the World Cup prior to the final game of this year’s Guinness Six Nations but has now confirmed that plan and extended it to all forms of rugby – including calling time on his career with club side Ulster.

“It is with mixed feelings that I announce my retirement from Ulster Rugby as of the end of this season,” said Best, who was awarded an OBE during the 2017 Lions Tour to New Zealand.

“This feels like the right time for me to go out on my terms, a luxury for which I feel very privileged.

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“I am very excited for the end of the season with Ulster Rugby and for the upcoming World Cup with Ireland, both of which I hope to finish with a massive high, playing at the top of my game.”

Best currently has 117 Ireland caps, 64 of which have come in the Six Nations, and he will look to add to that tally over the summer and into the 2019 World Cup in Japan – which starts on September 20.

Despite their incredible success in the Championship, Ireland have never reached the semi-finals of a World Cup – something the Ulsterman will be keen to rectify this year.

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