'All Black' Heffernan to go distance against Kiwis
There are not many people, least of all Irish men, who can claim to have scored for and against the All Blacks, but U-20 prop Oisin Heffernan has managed such an achievement.
The Irish tighthead scored a try a year ago when Ireland lost 45-23 to New Zealand in the battle for third place at the U-20 World Championship.
He will hope to repeat the feat when Ireland take on New Zealand in a winner-takes-all pool clash in Viadana tomorrow night in the World Rugby U-20 Championship.
The tries he has managed to score for the 'All Blacks' are somewhat less illustrious - they were for Connemara All Blacks RFC where the Clifden native first started playing the game. The Co Galway club's name is not in deference to the New Zealand game but rather is based on a popular fishing fly called the Connemara black.
"It is a great club and rugby community is really alive out the west. I started playing there when I was young, all the youngsters are into GAA, rugby and any other sport. I enjoyed the game from the start and it progressed from there," said Heffernan.
Along with captain Nick McCarthy, he has played every game since making his U-20 debut in the 2014 Six Nations and tomorrow the pair will win their 17th cap in this grade. His move to Cistercian College in Roscrea saw him hooked into the Leinster system and he has since been brought into their academy after representing them at schools.
"When I was in Roscrea I played a stint at underage for Connacht but then I got into the Leinster U-18 schools and haven't looked back since and I've enjoyed every minute of it."
After reaching the semi-finals for the first time last year - where they lost to England - they then ran New Zealand close for 60 minutes.
"Last year we were so close, first-half we were leading going into the dressing room. It was just the last 20 minutes when they stepped it up a gear and I thought that we just didn't have the intensity after having three hard group games to qualify for the semi-final.
"We are a bit fresher this year, there is a lot left in the tank and we are going to give it our all to stay in it for a full 80 minutes," added the UCD Arts student.
Meanwhile, the intensity in Italy has taken another casualty with lock Jack Dwan ruled out for the rest of the tournament with a shoulder injury suffered in the final play against Scotland.
Coach Nigel Carolan has drafted Ulster hooker Adam McBurney in an effort to extend options for the remaining three games in the tournament.