Injured Ireland hooker Best due back for Six Nations

Reuters
Italy's Andrea Lo Cicero challenges Ireland's Rory Best during their Six Nations international rugby union match in Rome
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Italy's Andrea Lo Cicero (L) challenges Ireland's Rory Best during their Six Nations international rugby …

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland hooker Rory Best is expected to return from injury in time for the start of the Six Nations in February after he underwent successful surgery on a broken arm, his province Ulster said on Tuesday.

Best scored Ireland's second try in an opening 20-minute blitz against New Zealand on Sunday but left the field soon after holding his right arm. The All Blacks came back from 19-0 down to hand Ireland a heartbreaking last-gasp 24-22 defeat.

The 31-year-old former Ulster captain, who was called up by the British and Irish Lions for the tour of Australia earlier this year, is expected to return to rugby in mid to late January, the province said in a statement.

Ireland begin their Six Nations campaign against Wales on February 2. Understudy hooker Richardt Strauss has been ruled out for the season after he was diagnosed with a heart condition last month.

Best will miss Ulster's Heineken Cup double header with Treviso next month and may also not make it back in time for the pool 5 leaders final two games against Montpellier and Leicester on January 10 and January 17.

(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; editing by Justin Palmer)

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