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Captain Heaslip leads as Leinster general


Jamie Heaslip

Jamie Heaslip

Jamie Heaslip

It was not the army bases, but the army man who made the deepest impression on him.

Leinster captain Jamie Heaslip is the youngest of four children born to retired Brigadier General Richard Heaslip.

His time in Nicosia was spent beside a minefield in-between those feuding neighbours Greece and Turkey as the third son of an Irish army man working with a peacekeeping force. There was also the nine months whiled away in Zagreb.

Surely, those two experiences provided him with lessons he has taken with him into a stellar rugby career.

"I'll never truly know," he reviewed.

It was not what went on outside his four walls that seeped through rather what went on inside them.

"In terms of living with my father, obviously, he is quite a regimented man and set in his ways," he said.

"That house probably imposed, or passed down, a lot of those traits onto me. I'm very much a man for routine about certain things."

The discipline wasn't always something that sat well with Heaslip.

He wanted to explore the world outside the boundaries set down for him and took a rebellious route at times.

"My house was run like an army base because of my Dad. It is probably why I went off and got my tongue pierced the first chance I got," he admitted.

Maturity has given him enough awareness to realise there are things he has in common with his Dad.

Heaslip is all about being on point, standing to attention for the next role he has to play.

"We know it's very hard to get out of our group, just in general, and we have a tough challenge ahead of us with the two teams we have to play.

"But you would just try to make it easier on yourself and focus in on this Saturday at half five."

That brings onto the radar Castres Olympique who looked like a leaderless rabble in their most recent Top-14 rout by Stade Francais.

Heaslip can't afford to take that form at face value even though the French club is out of the chase for The Champions Cup quarter-finals.

"My focus wouldn't be maximum points," he explained.

"You can't get five points unless you win. If you start off focusing on the bonus point, you might start pushing the game into situations where you don't need to.

"Whereas just being focused and diligent, breaking them down will get you the outcome that maybe you are looking for.

"I don't think you can look for it from the outset and, in a way, that removes a lot of pressure from the players.

"In most games, when you see teams get a bonus point in situations like these, it happens in the last 10 minutes when the team has exerted a lot of pressure.

"And that's not too dissimilar to last week really. So that's what we're focused on to be honest."

There was a case for his exclusion due to a shoulder injury. He has simply shrugged that off.

"It's probably embarrassing more than strange to be honest. I didn't know my way around the physio room or these things called medicals that happen after games as well, that was a bit strange.

"I got a bit of kick when I had to get my scans because they had to look back to 2010 for my last scan from the hospital.

"I think the doctor got a bit of a giggle out of that one because all of my injuries are on one sheet whereas most lads have a couple of sheets of stuff. I like to keep it all on one sheet, so we'll see how it goes," he laughed.

There persisted a 'school of thought' that Heaslip would be left out if still 50-50 later into this week.

Was it on the cards?

"Not in my school, there was never that thought," said O'Connor.

"At home in Europe you're going to put out your best blokes to get maximum points out of a game," he added.

The bulletproof resistance of Heaslip to injury has been recounted ad nauseum.

"There's always going to be special athletes and freaks like Jamie. There's just not enough of them," said O'Connor.

"The playing every week is one thing. In my time here, that AC injury is the first time he's missed a training session and you very rarely get that in the game.

"It's unbelievable the amount of guys that have to be managed throughout the training week that have to be sat out for bits and pieces, or not train because of any number of issues is very high."

It looks like he certainly won't miss this one.