New captain Heaslip claims confidence high despite poor results
JAMIE Heaslip insists Ireland remain in high spirits as Declan Kidney's reign enters a crucial phase.
Kidney has named a young side for Saturday's non-cap international against Fiji at Thomond Park featuring a trio of Ulster debutants in centre Luke Marshall, wing Craig Gilroy and fly-half Paddy Jackson.
Heaslip is one of three players retained from the XV defeated 16-12 by South Africa on Saturday, a result that saw Ireland extend their losing sequence to five Tests.
With the critical climax to the Guinness Series against Argentina looming on Saturday week, a strong performance against Fiji is paramount.
"This is the third week of a good camp. The lads have been going well in training and there's a lot of excitement around. It's a good place to be," Heaslip said.
Scrum-half Conor Murray and tighthead Mike Ross complete the surviving trio from the Springboks match, a game Ireland led 12-3 at half time.
In-form Ulster scrum-half Paul Marshall features on a strong bench that includes Cian Healy, Donnacha Ryan and Jonathan Sexton.
New Zealand-born prop Michael Bent, who made his Test debut against the Springboks despite arriving in Ireland only two weeks earlier, must settle for a place among the replacements after losing out to Ross.
"We've looked at what we did right and what we done wrong against South Africa and then started focusing on Fiji," Heaslip said.
"With Fiji we'll have top focus on ourselves. They're sevens world champions so they like an expansive game.
"At times the game can get a little bit fractured which they thrive on. We have to focus on ourselves, our structures and patterns.
"We have to concentrate on the basics because of the new faces and that's what we've been doing this week.
"We hit the ground running on Monday and everyone's been really focused. I can't wait to get out there."
Ireland have won all three previous meetings with Fiji.