Friday 19 January 2018

Jamie Heaslip eyes three-in-a-row

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

JAMIE HEASLIP says there is no reason why Leinster cannot make history and become the first team to win three Heineken Cups in a row.

The European champions begin the defence of their crown against England's Exeter Chiefs on Saturday at the RDS as they attempt to retain the Heineken Cup for the second season in succession, despite a raft of injury worries.

In winning back-to-back trophies last season, Joe Schmidt's side joined Leicester Tigers in being the only club to do the double, but in the 17-year history of the competition, no team has ever won Europe's biggest prize three times on the trot.

Leinster's players have spoken of building a legacy after claiming their third title in four years at Twickenham last May and their Ireland and Lions No 8 sees no sign of them stopping this season.

"I don't see why not. Nothing can't be accomplished," Heaslip said when asked if the three-in-a-row was realistic.

"I'm greedy. I want to win everything. That's it. Anything that I'm involved in. Any organisation or team I'm involved in, I want them to win.

"We can win the Heineken Cup again, it all starts this weekend and I think the team are putting themselves in a position to play well. We need to perform, to control our controllables and focus on that," he added.

"Exeter are a formidable force. They have a very good pack, they have ball carriers and ball players in the pack and all over the place. They are a good side who like to play with a bit of width but can bash it up as well. So we have to respect them on all fronts."

Meanwhile, the return of the Heineken Cup this weekend will put Ireland's recent struggles at international level into sharp focus and Heaslip admits that he is frustrated with how Declan Kidney's side have fared in the past year -- and is determined to put things right.

"I think it has probably frustrated a lot of people," he admitted. "We want to win, so not winning every year is frustrating. But we have to brush it off, plan and go.

"The November series, you have to focus on winning those games and the Six Nations is in your mind as well."

Irish Independent

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