Rory Best was meant to be captaining his country on a tour to the USA but now he is heading in the opposite direction as he flies off with the British & Irish Lions to Australia.

Best wasn't in the original 37-man squad announced in April, but after Dylan Hartley was handed an 11-week ban following his sending off for Northampton in the Aviva Premiership final against Leicester, the Irishman takes his place.

Best told Sky Sports: "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."

The hooker has represented his country 67 times and until Sunday was meant to be off to the States for Ireland's tour to North America. But that all changed when the 30-year-old got a phone call he'll never forget.

Best continued: "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."

Best will fly to Hong Kong with the rest of the Lions' squad before heading to Australia for the three-Test series against the Walabies.

The series starts on June 22 in Brisbane, but before then, there are six warm up games.

The first of these is on Saturday against the Barbarians, who England comfortably beat at Twickenham on Sunday.

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