Sunday 11 December 2016

Heaslip full of praise for 'world's best player' O'Driscoll

Hugh Farrelly

Published 15/03/2010 | 05:00

JAMIE HEASLIP frequently refers to the fact he is not a big studier of rugby in his spare time.

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Thoroughly professional about the game when he is on duty, once Heaslip has clocked out he says you are unlikely to surprise him Sky-plussing Super 14 matches or poring over DVDs of other players and referees.

The Leinster, Ireland and Lions No 8 is a pretty chilled individual, as laid-back off the pitch as he is relentlessly intense on it. The only time it is possible to recall Heaslip being anything other than engaging and enthusiastic with the media was after the Lions second Test defeat to South Africa when, understandably, he found it was impossible to mask his disappointment.

Whether he would want to take on all the rugby-related accompaniments that go with the job is debatable, but, as we noted after the Twickenham victory a couple of weeks ago, Heaslip has 'future Ireland captain' written all over him.

However, for now that job is being done by a certain Brian O'Driscoll, and after the latest Irish victory on his Leinster team-mate's watch, Heaslip paid glowing tribute to Ireland's totemic centurion.

"I tell you, any player getting to 100 caps is outstanding, but then you think of Brian and 63 of those are as captain. It's unbelievable," said Heaslip.

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"He's been the best player in the northern hemisphere and across the world for the last 10 years and I can't say enough about him. We didn't make a big deal of it (O'Driscoll's 100 caps) in the build-up -- it was more specifics about the match -- but we gave him a special mention before we left the hotel."

Heaslip's status in world rugby is not at O'Driscoll's level just yet but is heading rapidly in that direction and against Wales he turned in another compelling performance -- in a different league to his direct opponent Gareth Delve.

The Irish back-row completely dominated their opposite numbers as part of a powerful overall pack performance and Heaslip was particularly pleased with the defence and line-out stats emanating from Ireland's 27-12 victory.

"We probably gave away (too many) penalties but we're very happy with the turn of events," said Heaslip. "We knew he (referee Craig Joubert) was going to rule the ruck a little different and it did take a little bit of getting used to. We've done that now so going forward we'll know better."

Ireland might be calling on Christy Moore to help with the build-up to next Saturday's match against Scotland after the legendary musician, a regular Ireland squad entertainer over the years, had a sing-song with the players in the build-up to the Wales match.

"I think we have a 100pc record every time Christy comes in so we're thinking about bringing him in every week," said Heaslip.

Irish Independent

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