Sunday 25 February 2018

Captain: I'm jealous of players who spread their wings

Vincent Hogan

Vincent Hogan

Jamie Heaslip has hinted at the quandary facing Leinster team-mate, Jonny Sexton, over where his rugby future lies.

Sexton (below) has been linked with a move to moneybags French club Racing Metro as the IRFU look to secure him on a long-term contract with his native province. And Heaslip, the new Irish captain, admitted that leaving your roots is never going to be easy.

"In Ireland, you have guys who want to play for a jersey," he reflected. "You've guys who are born and bred here, who are products of coming through our system. I'm one of them and it just makes it easier working on the team ethos.

"It's that regional thing. Irish people tend to be like, 'This is our turf!' And that does help a little bit."

Heaslip himself considered a move abroad before agreeing the most lucrative of the current Irish player contracts.

"I've been quite jealous of people who've been able to go off to Australia for the year or travel for the year," he revealed.

"I looked into doing something similar to what James Haskell has done, where he's gone off to play in Japan, then the Super 15 and then come back.

"My brother is married to a Japanese girl and I've been to Osaka.

"Some people are home-birds and don't enjoy living away, but I think I would enjoy it. But there will be plenty of time for travelling when I'm finished playing rugby."

Heaslip admits he discussed the challenge of even taking a full year out of rugby with former Leinster team-mate, Brad Thorne, who stepped away from the game in his mid-20s and now believes it to have been a contributory factor to his longevity as a professional.

The Irish captain called for what he termed "a more holistic approach" to the pro rugby playing life in Ireland.

"A lot of guys come out at 34," said Heaslip "and some of them don't even have college degrees. You live in quite a bubble.

"I mean I literally get a three-week schedule emailed to my phone, telling me what to do.

"And that happens 11 months of the year. It's all quite scripted. If you can't come out of that bubble and have a life outside, then you might struggle."

Irish Independent

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