Jamie Heaslip interview 18 February 2009

February 19, 2009

A CHAT with Jamie Heaslip is
rewarding for all sorts of reasons, not all of them directly related to the next game, or even the last one.

You learn swiftly who the best table tennis player in the Irish rugby squad is (“we had to peel Luke Fitzgerald off the table the day of the Italy game, he was on it for about two hours”) and that Mick O’Driscoll and Malcolm O’Kelly are not men to face if you don’t have faith in the three of a kind you’re holding.

There’s mock-exasperation with last Sunday’s full-back (“Rob was worried he’d have a bruise on his face for the night out”) and an honest appraisal of how it feels to be stuck in a Roman ruck: “Castro(giovanni) and Parisse coming at you, you’re thinking ‘oh Jaysus, here we go’”.

Even when talk switches to the minutiae of last Sunday’s win over Italy, he can’t help being honest. Take this evaluation of his near-try: “I was close, I thought I was going to get over but your man got under me. He did really well, in fairness, though I don’t think Rog was too happy with me for not offloading.”

Heaslip pays warm tribute to his
forward colleagues, even if his maths aren’t flawless: “I couldn’t say enough about the front five, especially John (Hayes) — he made my life so easy at the back (of the scrum), to attack, it was a joke. At 50 years old, to be still pulling those games out of the hat … you can’t say enough about the man.

“All those guys are getting through an unbelievable amount of work — rucks, tackles, stuff that’s not as glamorous, but it loosens the back row to do our thing, that frees the backs to do their thing — it’s a knock-on effect and the game always starts with how well the front five do.”

Two years ago Heaslip missed the historic win over England in Croke Park. He didn’t go to Jones Road that day but hopes he’ll need his boots on Saturday week.

“My first worry is Deccie picking me, because you don’t know what you’re going to get with Deccie! I missed out two years ago. I don’t tend to go to games if I’m not playing, apart from Leinster, but I watched it (on TV), and it was amazing. I’d like to be part of that this time round.”

And there’s always last year’s defeat in Twickenham to avenge.

“It wasn’t nice last year, it never is, losing — particularly to England. A lot of people have written them off, which is unfair. Wales took one chance which turned the game, and that was from turnover ball — anything can happen with a turnover but Wales punished them.

“England were still in it with 10 or 15 minutes to go, and I think we’ll have our work cut out for us. We’ll have our video sessions this week so I’ll be more learned when it comes to England then.”

New Ireland forwards coach Gert Smal also gets the thumbs up. “He’s intense, very, very detailed. He does unbelievable work on lineouts — as does Paulie (O’Connell) — and you can see that work in how we defend lineouts, that’s going pretty well.

“He does good continuity and rucking drills, and they’re paying off with the offloading and reasonably quick ruck ball. And scrums … he loves his scrums and his front five.

“Off the pitch the banter is good, though he doesn’t take too well to talk about the punch he knocked the Kiwi out with. He wants a bit of pushing from me (in scrums), so I try to give it to him.”

Heaslip admits They’ll need to have their homework done for England.

“Their backs are very attack-oriented, and with England you always have a pack that’s mobile, big and strong. That’s just the way they are — they have quality to pick from, and they’ll be tough no matter what.

“They were unlucky against Wales, and people gave out about how they won against Italy, but they took their chances when they came. (It) is going to be another war of attrition. They carry hard and hit hard, but the way to counteract that is to do the same thing back for the full 80.”

People are enjoying the team’s success at a time when there’s plenty of bad news, something Heaslip acknowledges.

“Deccie’s talked about it, people are focused on it to take their minds off things. It happened in the past, looking at Ireland at the soccer World Cups, that took the focus off things at the time. If people want to do that, do it.

“I don’t think it puts any added pressure on us. We’re still going to approach the game the same way, but I suppose it could be something to give people to smile about a little more.

“I don’t know if that works for Leinster, because you guys give it to us anyway, but with Ireland, if it brings a little joy to someone’s life then it’s not going to do any harm, any is it?”


One Response to “Jamie Heaslip interview 18 February 2009”

  1. scooby doo Says:

    good post , interesing !

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