Wednesday 17 January 2018

'There's been a lot of talk about it' - Jamie Heaslip eager to avoid another slow start

Ireland vice-captain Jamie Heaslip during a press conference at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, Italy. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Ireland vice-captain Jamie Heaslip during a press conference at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, Italy. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile Newsdesk Newsdesk

Ireland number eight Jamie Heaslip has revealed that there has been a lot of talk surrounding the abysmal start at Murrayfield last weekend and what they need to do to rectify it.

Heaslip, who may have to take over as captain after Rory Best missed today's captain's run with an upset stomach, is keen to avoid falling behind early to Conor O'Shea's men.

Ireland conceded three first half tries to Vern Cotter's Scotland last week and although they were able to overhaul them and lead, two late Greig Laidlaw penalties condemned Ireland to an opening day defeat.

"We've got a massive challenge ahead of us. I think Italy have been under a really good transformation since Conor has come in. We've seen that with their November series and last week and last week so we know we've got a huge challenge against us," Heaslip said.

"Our learning from last week is that we obviously can't gift a team the start that we did and that's very fixable, because a lot of the mistakes were on us and giving Scotland opportunity to get into the game.

"If we did something similar with Italy they'd punish us as well.

"We know this all-too-well, we've had a really good week's training, took some of our learnings and looked at what opportunities we had as well.

"We trained hard and we're focused on getting out there and winning that first moment."

Asked if the poor start last week was down to anxiety, Heaslip responded: "Absolutely not.

“I don't think nervousness comes into it, because if you focus on what you've got to do then that takes away all of that.

“I'm going to say it's either Peyton Manning or his dad Walter who said nerves are for people who aren't prepared.

“So as long as we're prepared in our job I think that will take care of it, just focus in what we've got to do, trust the process and the plan that we've looked at during the week, tried to execute in training, have kind of revised and we're in a good place.

“But it's international rugby, so you've got to go out there and deliver.

“There's been a lot of talk about it, but we've got to deliver in actions."

Heaslip's last appearance at the Stadio Olimpico came in 2013 when Italy recorded their one and only Six Nations victory over Ireland and finished ahead of us in the table.

"I actually hadn't been here for ages, 2009 and 2013 are the only two times I've been here. Both very different days," he added.

“I got some memories from the last time just coming out onto that track, talking about the game, the last time I was here it wasn't a great place to be.

“But the memories before that were pretty fantastic.

“But in terms of atmosphere, it's a real Colosseum. The Italians love their rugby.

“I went for a walk this morning and saw lots of Irish already over. Lots of lads who have swung the rugby on Valentine's weekend, I don't know how they've managed that.

“But it's good seeing a lot of Irish people over here. It's going to be a real cauldron, really exciting, and I'm trying to tell that to the guys that haven't played here before.

“But we're lucky that most of us have, but there is a group that haven't seen that emotion that is pretty palpable from the crowd.

“It's pretty exciting and it's great to play in.

“Hopefully the weather stays the way it is and we've got a dry track and we can play some rugby."

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