| 10.3°C Dublin

Gibbes setting the bar high - Heaslip

NUMBER EIGHT Jamie Heaslip has heaped praise onto the wide shoulders of his forwards coach Jono Gibbes ahead of what could turn into a tumultuous season for Leinster.

New Zealander Gibbes was a renowned hard man in his playing days for Waikato, winning eight caps for the All Blacks and captaining the New Zealand Maori to a historic win over the British & Irish Lions in 2005 over a career ravaged and eventually ended by injury.

"Probably the way Jono played comes through in the way he coaches us. He is very decisive in what we want to do, very clear on what we want to do," said Heaslip.

"It is all about executing the detail. That is what Jono pushes onto us and that's what he expects. He expects a high standard and we try to deliver that to him every week.

"I like the way everything is very clear. I don't want to say 'accountable'. In general play, he's very helpful with getting extras in after training.

"He is also helpful in that he will come to you with things you need to work on. Vice-versa, if you go to him, he will come up with good drills to do after training."

Increasingly, the relationship between coaches and players is becoming a two-way street with players talking about the necessity to take 'ownership' of what happens out there on the pitch.


It is a recipe for success that is shared with the players all along the coaching roster from head coach Joe Schmidt to assistants Richie Murphy, Greg Feek and Gibbes.

"The set-piece stuff is really a credit to Jono," said Heaslip. "He drills us so well. We're very clear on what we want to do and our selection of what lineouts we are going to use and he plays off of those.

"It is the same with the scrum. Feekie puts a lot of work in. So does Mike Ross. There is a lot of detail that goes into it. It is great that we are very clear so that we can execute on the pitch."

This is not a 'love-in' where players receive the garlands on a weekly basis, despite the progression to a 20-match unbeaten streak that was stopped by the Ospreys recently.

This is an environment for 'tough love', where the only way to improve is to highlight what went wrong and how best to put it right.

"You think you do a good job. You pat yourself on the back. You come in and they will have a nice video to bring you back down to earth," added Heaslip.

He has shrugged off the unspectacular form that blighted his World Cup and the under-appreciated grafting that was the hallmark of his Six Nations.


The time has come for a possible Heineken Cup final dress-rehearsal against a vibrant, upbeat and bang-in-form Ulster in the PRO12 League at Ravenhill under the Friday night lights.

"It is going to be a tough ask for us to go up there. They've got a lot to play for. They're in the mix for the final semi-final play-off spot," he said.

"I know they love playing on Friday nights up there. Hopefully, we will get the weather and it will be a great night of rugby."

It remains to be seen how Leinster coach Joe Schmidt will approach this one. There must be a temptation to give his chosen Heineken Cup 15 a hit out.

This has to be balanced against the already guaranteed hometown advantage in the PRO12 semi-final and final. He does not need to take a risk. If anyone is in doubt, Schmidt will leave them out.