herald

Thursday 17 August 2017

Heaslip: Wasps sting a worry for us

Leinster captain Heaslip is wary of wingers Varndell and Wade who will punish mistakes if given time and space

Jaime Heaslip
Jaime Heaslip

Leinster captain Jamie Heaslip prefers to live in the moment than turn back to the future.

The Ireland number eight exists in a work environment where disappointments have to be used as a means of learning and then quickly put to one side ahead of the next mission possible.

This is why the Munster debacle draws out the 'let it go, man' side of him.

"That game is very much over and done with. There is no point in rehashing it because, as much as I love science, I haven't discovered how to make a DeLorean go back to the future and change time," he said, in his role as an ambassador for Science Week.

"We lose games. We lost to Munster this time last year. You lose big games every so often. You can't win them all. I'd love to.

"We lost a big one against Northampton last year. The previous year, we lost a big one against Clermont in the Aviva. These things happen."

The Munster match is not one to linger on. Won or lost.

The PRO12 League has been put on hold for the next two weeks as Leinster embrace the European Rugby Champions Cup.

Dai Young's Wasps will be first on the six-course menu between now and late into January that also includes the power of Castres Olympique and Conor O'Shea's Harlequins.

"The clubs all have unique and different threats, playing to different styles," he said.

"First up, we've got Wasps. We played them two years ago in the Amlin Cup over there and we've had them in our group before in Europe a couple of years back."

The two-time European Cup winners have made real progress this season, recruiting the likes of forwards Bradley Davies, James Gaskell, John Yapp, Lorenzo Cittadini and Carlo Festuccia to add ballast up front to what is a lightening backline.

"They are a side that punishes your mistakes. They've got unbelievable finishers in (Tom) Varndell and (Christian) Wade on the wing," noted Heaslip.

"I think Varndell holds the record for most tries cored in The Premiership. I have played with Christian Wade on The Lions tour and got to see, at first hand, what he's like in training.

"These are guys that, you make a mistake, be it defensively or you turn over a ball, they can run the length of the field in the blink of an eye. They are that fast."

Of course, the fast men on the outside can do little without the right service from their forward pack and half-backs. This is where Leinster have to stifle Wasps.

It won't be easy with back rowers in Springbok Ashley Johnson - he is unbelievable form - England's James Haskell to muscle the ball up and Joe Launchbury the glue in the engine room.

"They've also got some very big ball carriers in their forwards that are their momentum builders that can take then over the gain line and get them quick ball.

"We have got to negate that," he said.

"We have to win that battle of the gain line and not give them those opportunities to get the ball wide and cut us open with their speed and finishing ability.

There is danger in this appointment. Wasps have come through a period of upheaval and uncertainty to relocate the club to The Ricoh Arena in Coventry where they risk losing a large chunk of their supporters.

Leinster have been earmarked as a club in decline as they continue to haemorrhage players for one reason or another. That word transition has been bandied about again.

"I don't like to say our team is in transition because every year people leave. Every year people get injured. Every year people retire. That is the nature of the game," offered Heaslip.

"I have a lot of faith in the squad that we have. The squad is being tested right now with a lot of injuries. But, we never get through a season with the squad being tested".

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