Rory Best's captaincy was immense but his wee chats with the referee were legendary 3 years ago

Rory Best's captaincy was immense but his wee chats with the referee were legendary

Joe Schmidt was surprised when Josh van der Flier was announced as man-of-the-match.

Not that the Leinster flanker didn't deserve it - far from it - but Schmidt was convinced his captain, Rory Best, would get the accolade.

"I thought was going to be rigged for sure," Schmidt joked, before adding:

"To be fair, I do not think it would have had to be rigged, I thought Besty was superb."

Schmidt will get no arguments from us. Best had one of those pure-hearted, full-throttle performances. The type he has been clocking in for ever since he alerted the world he had stepped up a gear in 2011.

Israel Foalau is tackled by Rory Best and Garry Ringrose 26/11/2016

Six tackles, four carries, two turnovers and about seven billion rucks hit, marshalled or cleared.

The words of advice and encouragement he spoke to his younger teammates could be heard on referee Jerome Garces' microphone all the way through a tough, tough encounter. He is an inspiration to this next generation of players coming through.

Rory Best and Garry Ringrose celebrate 26/11/2016

One of the stand-out pieces of Best's captaincy, though, must surely be his cajoling and seed-planting with referees.

Best's gentle nudges to Jaco Peyper - about All Blacks coming in from the side - got Aaron Smith sent to the sin bin and the Kiwi media were none too happy about it.

Yap yap yap

On Saturday night, Best was it it again. While he sometimes ran into a brick wall with Peyper, he found Garces much more agreeable.

Best was polite and gushing of Garces in equal measure. He spoke when spoken too during a lot of their interactions but, if he wanted to make a point known, he would wait until a break in play to slip in a few, wee words.

He did not immediately storm up to the French referee when Tadhg Furlong was dumped into the turf by Dean Mumm. Instead, after Mumm was sin-binned, he waited until Ireland had been awarded another penalty [Paddy Jackson made it 3-0] before approaching Garces.

It was a subtle enough suggestion but would certainly play on Garces' mind -Players' safety was in jeopardy.

The Australians, meanwhile, were haranguing Garces and it was not going down well. Will Genia was warned for hacking a ball away, Michael Hooper was angrily told to step back after he approached Garces with a complaint and Stephen Moore was getting a brow-beating all game.

Michael Cheika looked like he was spitting feathers in the coach's box.

Midway through the second half, with Ireland sneaking ahead 27-24 on the scoreboard, Best had another chat with Garces. He pointed out that 'there's a lot of talk coming from their number 8' [David Pocock]. When Garces replied that he was not easily swayed, Best upped the charm offensive.

"I know, I know... you're a very good ref." 

On the very next breakdown mosh-up, Ireland were awarded a penalty after a Wallaby forward did not release the ball after a tackle. It looked like a fair call but Best was playing in blinder in getting on Garces' side.

The hooker left the field with a little under five minutes to play and the job just about done. The standing ovation he received was another rousing moment for the Irish players left on the field.

Ireland held on and held out. Best had his victory and so did Ireland.

Rory Best celebrates with his family after the game 26/11/2016

Post-match, Iain Henderson told us:

"I think it was in the back of everyone’s mind throughout the week. Everyone knew we had to put a performance in not just for Ireland but for Rory as well.

"I remember we lost for Paulie’s 100th against Wales and I remember feeling an air disappointment over that and I thought I’d hate to have that again for another centurion. Everyone felt similar and everyone knew it would be another big day for him and his family too.

"It was a Rory Best performance as we ground it out after they went ahead, keeping the head down, keeping the work going and holding on at the end."

Asked about the referee conversations, Henderson smiled and said:

"Look Rory is an absolute gentleman and he wouldn't talk to him in any other way. It's a testament to his character. He's a gent off the field and on the field he wouldn't be any other way."

It was a Rory Best performance.

We couldn't have put it better ourselves.

Dick Clerkin makes his GAA Hour debut to talk about a wonderful career and argue passionately with Colm Parkinson over Sky Sports GAA. Subscribe here on iTunes.