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'It was my last shot' - former Ireland captain Rory Best on World Cup heartbreak

Retired Irish captain Rory Best has opened up on the painful aftermath of his side's quarter-finals exit from the Rugby World Cup and the pressures his team was under entering the tournament.

Rory Best celebrates with Jonathan Sexton after scoring his side's second try during the Rugby World Cup pool game against Scotland. Source: Associated Press

In his first interview since getting knocked out by the All Blacks 46-14, Best still struggles to process how a team who entered the competition ranked No.1 in the world bowed out so early.

"You go through waves, at times you feel how nice it is to be home, there are times when it is so nice not to have the pressure," Best told the Daily Telegraph.

"But then you refresh Instagram and you see pictures of preparations for the semis and finals, then pictures of the guys with the trophy, and that is when it hits you: 'Oh, I would love to be still there ...' "

Best said his team felt pressure from everywhere - internally from players and departing coach Joe Schmidt and externally from fans and media.

"No one was more gutted than we were to be going out at the quarter-final stage," he said.

"Joe had got us to a stage where we expected to win. He had also brought the supporters along. But they expect us to win, it is no longer about a great effort. We are expected to win and so much of that is internal, especially when you are away so far [from Ireland], you don't hear that much of what is going on at home. I just think the pressure was on us.

"Obviously that is ramped up as a World Cup is only every four years. At a Six Nations, if you don't get it quite right, you can dust yourself down and go again in 12 months. But by the time another World Cup comes along, who knows how many players from our squad will still be there?

"That is pressure you put on yourself. For me, I knew it was my last shot and for others it is another four years, which is a lifetime in rugby."

However, Best said rumours Schmidt's fine attention to detail created tension amongst the team was false.

"There was a big perception in the media that the camp wasn't happy and I think the Irish media in particular were trying to pile more pressure on us because we had a poor Six Nations," Best insists.

"That is because of the standards we set in 2018 and the fact we didn't quite reach them."

Instead, Best admits it was the upset loss to Japan in pool play that will haunt his team.

"We were doing everything we could to make sure we performed and we fell short. We got ourselves on the wrong side of the draw because we didn't perform the way we wanted to against Japan.

"It is easier for me because I am finishing up and I don't have to worry about post-mortems and having to go into a December camp where we need to improve and try to be a part of that."

Despite the disappointing finish to an international career spanning 14 years and 124 Test caps, the 37-year-old said he won't dwell on it.

"I can now step away and I don't have any regrets about anything because. If you live your life with regrets, you won't sleep for the rest of your life."