Ex-Ireland captain feels current skipper deserves far more credit for what he has achieved
Keith Wood believes Rory Best deserves even more praise than he has got as captain of an Ireland side that has created history in 2016.
He also feels the Ulster hooker is the all-time best in his position for Ireland.
Best won his 100th cap on Saturday in the victory over Australia to cap a year when the Irish have overcome South Africa once in the summer and finally came out on top over the All Blacks.
The way Best has led the team since being appointed captain after Paul O'Connell's retirement has impressed a man who also skippered the national team to great acclaim.
"Rory Best has played well this year. The last time he played as well as he has this year was in the run up to the last Lions tour when he hit unbelievable form," said Wood.
"Unfortunately for him, he lost a little bit of his accuracy and confidence on that tour and it became very hard for him. But he dug all the way through and dug the way out at the back of it. And it was amazing when you have a setback and his confidence had a setback, but he came back from that stronger.
"But it's got stronger and stronger and stronger."
And Wood was impressed by how Best dealt with the emotion of winning a 100th Ireland cap while trying to lead a side against Australia simultaneously in his first full year in the role.
On top of that, he believes the 34-year-old deserves even more recognition than he has received for his service in the green of Ireland.
"He's learning at an accelerated rate - on a day that had to be hugely emotional. One hundred tests. It's very hard to really explain to people about what it's like to play in a front row of an international, to how hard it is on the body, how fatiguing it is and all the other things that you have to go and do," he said.
"He has done that for 100 tests. That is just phenomenal. I know there were nice things said about him during the week but I almost thought they didn't quite get anywhere near high enough. To be able to play to that level and won what he's won in that period has just marked him out as being the best Irish hooker that we've had."
And Wood is also pleased by the strength in depth Ireland showed during the November tests, with the Six Nations early next year.
"Is this the best November Series we've had? By a country mile it is," he said.
"I think backing it up with the most ramshackle back-line possible for the second half against Australia just proves we have a bit of strength in depth beyond the 23 which makes life a little bit sweeter."