Rory Best: Ireland's skipper expects to retire after 2019 World Cup

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Rory Best 'a little sad' as he prepares for probably his final home Six Nations game
Six Nations: Ireland v France
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin Date: Sunday, 10 March Kick-off: 3pm GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio Ulster and Text commentary on BBC Sport website.

Ireland captain Rory Best has said he expects to retire after this year's Rugby World Cup in Japan.

The 36-year-old Ulster hooker will win his 116th cap in Sunday's Six Nations match against France in Dublin.

"I think it's fairly certain that the World Cup will be the end for me," said Best, whose international career dates back to 2005.

Best hopes his Test swansong could be leading Ireland to a first-ever World Cup semi-final, and maybe even beyond.

"I think that I feel really good, I don't feel I'm playing any worse," he added.

"I am really enjoying rugby and part of that might be because I haven't 100% made the decision.

"But I'm fairly sure it will be, and part of the reason I'm enjoying rugby so much, and I hope playing well, is because there's that weight lifted off."

Joe Schmidt appointed Rory Best as Ireland captain after Paul O'Connell's retirement following the 2015 World Cup
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt is stepping down from the role after the World Cup

Schmidt to step down as Ireland coach after World Cup

Best's comments on Saturday suggest that he will also call time on his Ulster career.

Back in January, the British and Irish Lions hooker told BBC Sport Northern Ireland that he might opt to continue his Ulster career after his anticipated international retirement following this World Cup.

"I am in a really lucky position at the minute that, the way I am feeling, I can go to the World Cup and be at the top of my game," added Best on Saturday.

"And for me, the way I'm thinking at the minute, that will be a really good time for me.

"Plus Joe Schmidt said he didn't want me to keep going without him!"

Ireland coach Schmidt is stepping down from the Ireland role after the World Cup with his assistant Andy Farrell then taking over the role.

Schmidt appointed Best as Ireland captain in January 2016 following Paul O'Connell's retirement.

Best sits third on Ireland's all-time appearance list, behind Ronan O'Gara with 128 caps and Brian O'Driscoll with 133.

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