RugbyU: Painful past lessons makes Best wary of Scots


Dublin (AFP)

If Ireland are to beat Scotland on Saturday and edge to within a win of only their third Five/Six Nations Grand Slam they must not repeat the mistakes they made in last year's match says captain Rory Best.

The 35-year-old hooker said they allowed themselves fatally to relax once they had battled back from 21-5 down to lead 22-21 with the game entering the final stages only for Greig Laidlaw to convert two penalties to seal the game for the Scots.

The Irish -- unbeaten at home in the Six Nations since head coach Joe Schmidt took over after the 2013 edition -- will start as favourites despite the Scots arriving in Dublin on the back of a scintillating victory over champions England.

"We got ourselves back into it and we breathed a sigh of relief," said Best -- who will win his 100th cap -- at his eve of match press conference.

"But that was a mistake because if you do that in tests you can easily lose control.

"You can't afford to do that and we paid heavily for it."

Best, who says he hopes his contract talks will be resolved soon and will see him stay on course for next year's World Cup, says the Irish have to be prepared for moments that don't go their way.

"Something always goes wrong, and that's the beauty of sport," said Best.

"You've got to make sure you're bigger and stronger than that."

Best discounted Scotland's poor away record in the tournament which without counting traditional whipping boys Italy has seen them win just two of 37 on the road.

One of those, though, came in Dublin in 2010 denying the Irish the Triple Crown.

"I think when you look at that first game in Cardiff (Scotland were thrashed by Wales), the squad they've named now, there have been a lot of changes, a lot of very important people have come back in," said Best.

"It'd be rich if I sat up here and said you can't be caught cold at the start of a championship, it happened to us 12 months ago.

"We don't focus on home or away records, we focus on the threats.

"When we do analysis we don't look at the stadium we look at players, and the way they execute moves."

- 'Explode into it' -

Best, Ireland's third most capped player behind the now retired Brian O'Driscoll and Ronan O'Gara, said he had no fears Garry Ringrose would be up for the challenge despite the centre only having played 54 minutes of rugby since early January.

"Garry has the advantage of youth (he is 23) whereby there is a little bit less of a fear factor," said Best.

"You haven't really faced as many adversities as those with 60 caps.

"He is a great talent and an impressive character.

"In the first few moments he will probably try and catch his breath.

"I would say to him don't build into the game explode into it."

Best, who assumed the captaincy after Paul O'Connell retired after the 2015 World Cup, says dreams of the Grand Slam had been shunted aside although the Irish could assure themselves of the title -- their third under Schmidt -- if Ireland secure a bonus point win and England fail to match that against France.

"Even if anyone from the squad was looking forwards to the England game that result in Murrayfield (Scotland beating England) made them focus on the Scots."