Rory Best has admitted experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions during the past four weeks, having been called up to join the British and Irish Lions squad on Sunday after being omitted from the original squad in April.
The hooker is flying off to Hong Kong with the rest of the British and Irish Lions before heading to Australia for the three-Test series.
Best got the nod after Northampton's Dylan Hartley was handed an 11-game ban following his sending-off at Twickenham on Saturday.
On April 30, Best was devastated to be left out of the 37-man squad, describing it as one of the darkest moments of his career.
The 30-year-old said: "When the initial squad was announced that was as low as I've felt.
"We were training at Ulster at the time and more and more people on our management were avoiding eye contact with me.
"Nobody avoids you when it's good news, so I had an idea from that. It was bitterly disappointing and on that Tuesday afternoon I allowed myself to dwell on it and think deeply about the whole thing.
"But we had a few very important games coming up so it was a case of picking yourself up and dusting yourself down."
Best, who has been capped 67 times, had been appointed captain for Ireland's tour to North America and was due to meet up with the squad on Monday morning.
But now he is heading in the opposite direction, adding: "The Lions are something you dream of, an absolute honour to be here.
"When you don't make the initial squad you try to stay fit and always keep your phone by your side.
"When the call came through it was a number I didn't recognise. I don't normally answer those but for this I made an exception. It was great news.
"I had to pull over on to the hard shoulder to make sure I didn't veer off the road at that stage."
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