Saturday 21 July 2018

Heaslip bursting to get back into action after Paris bruising

Hugh Farrelly

THE Scottish poet Robert Burns once noted that "suspense is worse than disappointment" and that would certainly appear to be the case for Jamie Heaslip.

The disappointment of seeing Ireland's 12-match unbeaten run ended so emphatically at the Stade de France was intense, admits Heaslip, but the No 8 insists it is out of his system and he is now itching to put it right, bemoaning the 11-day wait before he can get stuck into the English at Twickenham.

"It wasn't an easy loss to take," acknowledged Heaslip at the showroom of Irish kit sponsors Puma yesterday. "But I have complete faith in the squad's ability, the players around me and myself that we can come back -- and no better place than England over there. The only shame is that we have to wait two weeks for it. It's a shame it isn't on this Sunday."

Given the injury situation and the need to rebuild confidence after such a significant defeat, it is doubtful whether Ireland management would agree with Heaslip, but the fact the opposition is England focuses the minds because they are, well, England.


"You don't need any more motivation to get yourself going," agreed Heaslip, who played in Twickenham in Eddie O'Sullivan's last game in charge when Danny Cipriani inspired the home team to a 33-10 victory (the same scoreline as last Saturday).

"The last time I played against England in Twickenham I was on the receiving end of another whuppin' and I definitely don't want that to happen again, because I know what the feeling was like over there, it was horrible.

"So we want to go out there and win, basically. There's nothing else, really. If it was table tennis you'd want to win against an Englishman. The fact that it's 15 of them makes it more enjoyable."

One of the most unsettling aspects to France's victory was their apparent physical superiority over the Irish, with Heaslip the only Irish player to consistently match them in the power stakes throughout the match. However, the 26-year-old does not believe this is an issue for a side that physically matched the Springboks in November.

"They were very physical, but I don't think they were any bigger or stronger than any of us. I don't think any player worries about a big guy. As my brothers told me growing up, the bigger they are, the harder they fall."

Over the last 12 months, Heaslip has developed into a world-class player, as he proved conclusively on last summer's Lions tour, and has continued in that vein this season. On Saturday, he faced arguably the form No 8 in the world and acquitted himself admirably after a monumental battle.

There is no shortage of respect for opponents, but no sense of intimidation, and now Heaslip is ready to throw his weight behind the imperative of three wins against England, Wales and Scotland, which, if France slip up, could still bring home the title.

"(Imanol) Harinordoquy is class, he took some amount of high catches, the guy has skills. But I like going up against good players. I gave him a good run at the weekend, he had a great game himself, though.

"A couple of people said it to me after the game, at the dinner, 'ah sure we still have the Triple Crown' and this and I'm kind of going, 'ah for God's sake like, there's still a Six Nations to be won, there's still a championship to be won.'

"Plenty of teams have won the Six Nations by losing one game. Nothing's over, I mean bloody hell, we won the Heineken Cup last year after we lost in our group. It happens, you lose games."

Irish Independent

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