Friday 20 April 2018

Heaslip demands crowd-pleasing performance against French

Ireland captain Jamie Heaslip during a press conference today. Photo: Sportsfile
Ireland captain Jamie Heaslip during a press conference today. Photo: Sportsfile

Duncan Bech

JAMIE Heaslip today urged his Ireland team-mates to give fans cause to celebrate during tomorrow's must-win RBS 6 Nations clash with France.


The atmosphere at the Aviva Stadium has often been muted since it opened in 2010 and former Ireland back row Alan Quinlan was highly critical of the supporters' disinterest before the defeat by England four weeks ago.


But Heaslip believes it is the players who must set the tone when the championship's two biggest flops collide.


"The players always feel as though it's a great crowd when we come here. Maybe we didn't give them a lot to cheer about in the England game," the captain said.


"Hopefully we'll give them something to cheer about at the game. The crowd here and when we travel is amazing. They're a passionate group like all Irish people.


"We want to win. We're disappointed about the way the last two games have gone.


"We're going out there with a plan and will be trying to execute it."


Ireland's chances of securing a second victory of a disappointing Six Nations have improved with the selection by France coach Philippe Saint-Andre of Frederic Michalak at fly-half.


The arrival of Michalak in the defeat by England two weeks ago, in place of the impressive Francois Trinh-Duc, contributed to Les Bleus' downfall at Twickenham and he has been poor throughout the championship.


Michalak offers an extra goalkicking option in what is expected to a miserable day in Dublin and Ireland coach Declan Kidney understands his return to the starting XV.


"Michalak is a good player. He finds openings where other people don't see them. He has the vision needed to do that," Kidney said.


"Games like this have been tight over the last couple of years and that's what they've gone after.


"There are a lot of good combinations in their back line, lads who can play off each other."


Tomorrow will be Brian O'Driscoll's last match at Lansdowne Road if the Leinster centre decides to retire at the end of the season, but Kidney is hoping he continues.


"Please God this won't be his last game. He had a smashing game against Wales," he said.


"To turn out against England shows his passion for the whole thing.


"Who's to know what will happen? This will be another game to add to his tally."

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