Ireland lock Paul O'Connell has praised Simon Best's contribution to Irish rugby after the Ulster prop announced his retirement from rugby on medical grounds.
Best, who won 23 Test caps and captained Ireland against Argentina last summer, has been forced to quit the game just five months after a heart condition brought a premature end to his World Cup campaign.
Coach Eddie O'Sullivan had already spoken of how popular a figure the Poyntzpass man still is with his international team-mates.
And O'Connell reiterated that point, explaining that even if he was on the bench or not included in the matchday 22, Best was still able to have a big influence on the Irish camp.
"Simon was very highly respected, a really good player and a really good squad man as well," he said.
"It's tough sometimes when you're not making the team. You can end up having guys struggling with motivation but Simon was never like that.
"He was a very positive influence. I suppose he was captain with Ulster so he used to bring those qualities to Ireland all the time as well.
"He was a very good player, a very good guy and he's a massive loss. Especially when there aren't a lot of quality tighthead props around anywhere in the world at the moment, not to mention Ireland."