Heaslip wary of wily Gatland
Published 07/02/2014 | 09:22
Wales boss Warren Gatland will have a few tricks up his sleeve that could catch Ireland's crop of Lions unawares on Saturday, warns Jamie Heaslip.
Lions coach Gatland led the likes of Heaslip and Ireland captain Paul O'Connell to Test series victory over Australia in the summer.
The fallout from omitting Brian O'Driscoll for the decisive final Test still overshadows Saturday's RBS 6 Nations clash between Ireland and Wales.
Vice-captain Heaslip believes Ireland carry "absolutely" no hang-ups from the summer into this weekend.
Ireland's Lions contingent worked closely and at length with Gatland, unearthing his most trusted coaching methods and styles of play.
But the Leinster loose forward is adamant Gatland has kept some secrets close to his chest, to be unleashed for his Wales side in this year's Six Nations, as they chase a record third straight championship titles.
"I'm sure 'Gats' hasn't shown his full hand, across the summer and even into the tournament now," said Heaslip.
"Their lads have played enough against (Ireland coach) Joe (Schmidt) through club rugby when he was Leinster boss I suppose, to get a taste of what he could be like.
"But they are not playing against Joe as such, they are playing against our lads.
"You've got to take it with a pinch of salt I suppose.
"It will have a bearing, and perhaps they could gain an advantage from it. But we've just got to be mindful of them producing something different.
"And it's over to us, ultimately. We're under no illusions what we're up against.
"They've won the championship two years on the hop now. We're going up against a quality side, we've played against them often and with them from the summer.
"They are good players and good blokes, and we expect a tough battle on our hands in that regard. It's definitely going to be a physical game."
Assistant coach Les Kiss said Ireland will not hold anything back in chasing turnovers at the tackle area.
But the defensive specialist said Schmidt's outfit will be at pains to show referee Wayne Barnes they are staying the right side of the laws when contesting the breakdown.
"You can still go hard at the breakdown, and fight hard," said Kiss.
"But you must do it accurately and show good pictures to the referee and your team-mates.
"If the contest is on we'll go for it, but if not we'll trust in our other plans."