Ireland captain Rory Best says the future is bright for the national team following a historic win over Australia at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.
Joe Schmidt’s team fought a rearguard action, with players dropping like flies, yet somehow managed to carve out a 27-24 win.
This is the first time that Ireland have beaten the big three Southern Hemisphere nations - New Zealand, South Africa and Australia - in the one season.
Best, who won his 100th cap against the Wallabies at Lansdowne Road, paid tribute to young players like Garry Ringrose, Josh van der Flier and Joey Carbery.
The inexperienced trio were thrown in at the deep end due to an ever-worsening injury crisis and helped Ireland to a landmark victory.
“It’s been quite a 12 months since the world cup and I’ll not take any of the credit,” said Best.
“All the coaching staff right from Joe down and I have to give massive credit to the young kids who stood up and the future is very bright for Irish rugby.
“Over the last few months we’ve talked a lot about the young players coming through. Joey Carbery had his 21st in Chicago and I worry to think how much older I am than him, Josh van der Flier coming in for a player like Sean O’Brien…”
We need your consent to load this rte-player contentWe use rte-player to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences
Best also paid tribute to the fans at the Aviva Stadium, who roared their team to victory, and his loving family who have supported him through his 100 cap career to date.
“The atmosphere was incredible,” said the Ulster man.
“They’re a great bunch of boys and we had to make a lot of changes, before kick-off an early in the game. It’s a very special day for me and I’d like to thank everyone here for that and most importantly to the boys - I can’t take my hat off enough to them and the character they showed.
“My family, mum and dad, brothers and sisters, Jodie and the kids - they’ve all been very supportive of me I’m very grateful to my family and everyone who supports me.”
Best’s opposite number - both in the Number 2 jersey and as Australia captain - Stephen Moore made no excuses for the Wallabies’ reverse ahead of the final test of their European tour against England next weekend.
“We didn’t have a lot of chances in the first half and that was our own fault,” said Moore, who has two Irish parents. “Pretty gutted about the result and no complaints - Ireland deserved to win.
“We created a lot more chances in the second half we didn’t take all of them, which is disappointing, but all credit to Ireland they took that chance late on and all credit to them. We’ll have a look at the game and work out how we need to be better next week.”