‘Unforeseen circumstances’ stall Best contract talks with IRFU

Iain Henderson has also to agree a new national contract with the IRFU

Rory Best has yet to sign an IRFU contract that would take the Ireland captain to the 2019 World Cup in Japan. At a media briefing ahead of the penultimate Six Nations match against Scotland this Saturday, Best was asked about his ongoing negotiations.

“I think it is at a fairly advanced stage and we’ll hopefully have an announcement about that fairly soon,” said Best after the Captain’s Run at the Aviva stadium. “I feel I’m playing pretty well and my stance on it hasn’t changed in the last while.

“Due to a few unforeseen circumstances it hasn’t been as quickly through as we would like but hopefully we would have news on that - good, bad or indifferent - in the future, the very near future.”

Iain Henderson, Best's fellow Ulster forward in tomorrow's Ireland squad, and Rob Kearney are the only other players yet to agree or reject national contract offers from IRFU performance director David Nucifora.


Best is also in talks with Nucifora but at 35, and as Ulster and Ireland captain, the veteran hooker is less of a flight risk.

Henderson, however, having impressed on the British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand last summer, would command an elite six figure salary from several leading English or French club.

The "unforeseen circumstances" Best mentioned remain unclear but Ulster head coach Jono Gibbes recently confirmed he will follow Director of Rugby Les Kiss, released in January, out of Belfast this summer.

On Thursday night Ulster head of operations Bryn Cunningham was on the receiving end of heavy criticism from a room of Kingspan stadium season ticket holders at a pre-planned meeting. Several people also voiced their displeasure that Ulster Branch chief executive Shane Logan was not present to engage with supporters.

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey is The Irish Times' Soccer Correspondent